Epic Games Store has launched in China.
As reported by Techweb (thanks, PCGamesN), Epic “quietly unlocked” its digital PC storefront earlier this week, making almost all of its games available to purchase in mainland China. While the site does not currently accept credit cards, it does accept payment via the online vendors WeChat and AliPay.
As “a low-cost region”, PCGN reports the prices of games like Borderlands 3 and Metro Exodus are “substantially lower than in North America”.
In a statement to PCGN, an Epic spokesperson said that “we look at Epic Games store as a global service and want to make it available to players in every region we can” but did not comment further on why the firm did not make a formal announcement about the Chinese launch. Consequently, players and media alike are speculating that the stealth release may be due to China’s strict approval processes and intensive government regulation.
After several months of uncertainty and a ban on video game approvals, an official at the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda department confirmed in January the new regulator has completed reviews on the first batch of games, but the lengthy ban had a significant impact on games industry fortunes. One of China’s biggest gaming companies, Tencent, reportedly cut its marketing budget following a market slowdown driven by the regulatory disruption in China. While still a “strongly profitable” company, analysts projected the Chinese company’s “total debt has soared to a record $26 billion”, and expected the company to reveal its slowest growth in years when it reports on its earnings.
Consequently, Tencent announced restructured for the first time in six years following the challenges dealing with Chinese governmental regulations for the gaming industry. The megacorp was hit with a fall in profits for the first time in 13 years owing to the very same Chinese regulatory issues that have pushed the decision to restructure.