Valorant officially arrives in China
It's the end of a very long process, but publisher Tencent, owner of Riot Games, has finally managed to get Valorant validated in China. The game will soon have official servers and a real follow-up in the Middle Kingdom.
Limited availability so far
Valorant was officially released on 2nd June 2020, but is not yet available in all countries of the world, let alone supported by them. In September 2021, Tencent proudly announced that Valorant was playable in China and that they would begin the process of getting the game approved by the Chinese government. Pending approval, the Chinese structures and their players were to play on foreign servers (mostly from Hong Kong) to play matches.
Some have taken advantage of this delay to try to gain a foothold in the market by creating a thinly disguised clone of Valorant. The closest being Project M, published by NetEase, which takes the agents and maps and makes some stylistic changes. The game even has the advantage of being available on mobile, unlike its spiritual father.
The Chinese government is extremely careful about what content can and cannot be broadcast on its territory, especially since in 2021 it tightened the rules on access to video games. The media was then considered to be the "opium of the mind" for young people and restricted access to minors to a maximum of one hour of play on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
This being said, if video games themselves are not necessarily well perceived, esport is seen as a buoyant market, capable of making their country stand out internationally. Given the aura of Riot Games in the industry, and the fact that it is owned by a Chinese publisher, there was little doubt that Valorant would one day be approved.
So on 28th December, Valorant appeared under the name 无畏契约 which can be translated as 'Fearless Contract', on the list of soon-to-be licensed games published on the Chinese NPPA website (National Press and Publication Administration). This will be the official name of Valorant in China, as agreed between Tencent and the regulatory authorities.
What future for Valorant in China?
Valorant should therefore be recognised and freely distributed in China during 2023. The game should therefore be free to download, playable in cyber-cafes and have its own servers. The organisation of tournaments, essential for any esport game, should also be facilitated. It only remains for the local scene to organise itself in order to find the future talents who will shake the world at the VCT.
Naturally, we can expect a massive influx of players, although there is still one major obstacle to overcome: CrossFire. This Counter-Strike clone has been the most popular competitive game in China for over a decade. Valve never managed to impose Counter Strike; it remains to be seen whether Tencent will be able to impose Valorant.