Let me offer you some elementary school education on worldwide demographics: there are a lot of people in China. Over 1.4 billion, to be precise, and many of those people enjoy videogames. Now Chinese players make up the majority of Steam users, too.
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That’s according to the results of Steam’s latest hardware survey, which also tracks users’ selected language. Simplified Chinese now makes up 57.37% of the share, dwarfing English’s second-place spot at 21.24%. Russian rounds out third place at 6.20%, and no other language accounts for more than 3% of the overall userbase.
Perhaps most remarkable, China’s new share came from an increase of over 26% in the last month alone. You can attribute that to the meteoric rise of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds which, despite concern from the Chinese government, has rocketed to new heights thanks to interest from players in the country. It’s worth noting that other publishers handle some of Valve’s biggest games in China, including CS:GO and Dota 2, so they’re not really a factor here.
Many players have expressed concern that a significant percentage of these players – particularly in PUBG – are made up of alt accounts used for cheating and farming, but it’s difficult to nail down exactly how widespread those factors are. We do know that PUBG’s developers have been ramping up bans at an incredible rate over the past few months, however, and some players have even been taking the matter into real-life violence.
Whatever the specific role of the less savory parts of the playerbase are in this, the numbers are still incredible, and a tremendous reminder that Asian markets us English-speakers don’t often consider are massive driving factors in today’s game industry.