This has larger implications for the Chinese game industry that reaches beyond distribution, too.
Tencent is set to break into the western PC gaming market by releasing its gaming platform, WeGame, worldwide. According to South China Morning Post, Tencent Holdings is in the process of upgrading its platform from Tencent Games Platform (which is less than a year old) to WeGame. “The Hong Kong version of WeGame is now under development,” a representative of Tencent said in a statement last week. “This version will be available for overseas users, and we will use this platform to bring more Chinese games to the global market.”
Tencent is no stranger to the multifaceted prism that is the western game industry — it has investments in companies like Epic, Riot, PUBG Corp., and Activision Blizzard. Thankfully, these investments are fairly hands-off. Tencent likes its investments to do what they do best without feeling the need to run interference. The Chinese tech giant is just that: a giant. In the global economy, Tencent is bigger than Facebook and is just shy of Amazon, valued at $529.9 billion as of November 2017.
WeGame is primed to become a potential Steam rival, especially as Valve is setting itself up to release Steam in China, thanks in part to a partnership with Perfect World, a Chinese company. Steam is still considered the status quo for releasing games on PC with a relatively low barrier to entry. There isn’t much in the way of quality assurance or control, especially when compared with how console games (physical or digital) tend to be certified. Of course, because WeGame’s titles are only released in China, they have to go through a rigorous vetting process that, according to SCMP, “typically takes months to complete, and games with the slightest violent or sexual content are likely to get rejected.”
This somewhat aggressive expansion into the west may allow Tencent to not only release Chinese games to the global gaming community, but to potentially fast-track (or even bypass) the rigid censorship regulations around video games in China. It could mean that Tencent releases Chinese-made games outside of China entirely. There’s no Chinese or international release date set for WeGame at this time.