Chinese games giant Tencent is preparing to take its popular PC games marketplace beyond its home nation with a global version of WeGame in the works.
The South China Morning Post reports that a Hong Kong edition of the platform is now in development, and will be used to target players outside China, as well as try to recreate local titles' successes in overseas markets.
WeGame launched back in September, replacing the Tencent Games Platform, and has been likened to Steam. Its catalogue currently only consists of 220 titles, encompassing a mix of Chinese titles and a selection from international companies. But Tencent is hoping it will be able to expand on this significantly once the new site has launched.
"The Hong Kong version of WeGame is now under development," a spokesperson said. "This version will be available for overseas users, and we will use this platform to bring more Chinese games to the global market."
The move is almost certainly in response, at least in part, to Valve's recent announcement of a Chinese version of Steam. The company is working with local publisher Perfect World to create a marketplace specifically for Chinese gamers as the international version is restricted in the region in various ways by the Chinese government.
Steam does, however, have a significant Chinese audience; a recent Valve survey reportedly revealed that more than a quarter of Steam users have set Simplified Chinese as their preferred language, suggesting a large and active userbase in the area.
While WeGame has a much smaller catalogue than Steam at present, it does have one major advantage in being owned by Tencent: the Chinese corporation has invested or acquired multiple major games firms around the world - including Riot Games, Epic Games, Glu Mobile, Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft and more - potentially granting access to their portfolios once the site goes live.
It's likely new releases will also be able to reach Chinese gamers faster than they do under the current system. All games headed for China must be reviewed by the government, and are often rejected for even the slightest hint of violence or sexual content. By launching games via a Hong Kong-based site, which is accessible to Chinese gamers but not under the restrictions of the government, Tencent can rapidly expand WeGame's catalogue.
Neither WeGame Hong Kong nor Steam China has a release date, so the race is on to see who can change the game in the region.