In a recent debacle where certain games were targeted by Valve due to the sexual nature of their content whereby the developers of these games were sent emails with zero forewarning that their titles would be taken down from Steam unless they updated them to follow Steam’s guidelines on pornographic content. However, these games had been on the Steam store for quite some time by then and had already been approved for sale on the store by Valve, so needless to say, Valve received quite a bit of back backlash from the community upon the news breaking out. Well it seems that after much deliberation, an official blog post by Valve’s Erik Johnson has come out to clarify the company’s stance on such titles going forward.
“The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it’s about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics – politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on. In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games – like what even constitutes a “game”, or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released.”
With this in mind, Valve has decided that the solution is to take a hands-off approach, by allowing all kinds of games onto Steam and letting its users decide what games they would personally wish to see on the sore.
The solution, according to Johnson:
“So we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy. If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
With that principle in mind, we’ve decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see. We already have some tools, but they’re too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough. We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you’re not interested in. So if you don’t want to see anime games on your Store, you’ll be able to make that choice. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you’ll be able to do that. And it’s not just players that need better tools either – developers who build controversial content shouldn’t have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we’ll be building tools and options to support them too.”
So with that, it seems that things might get a lot easier for developers of games such as Huniepop or Kindred Spirits on the Roof, and if anyone has an issue with such games, they will be able to tailor their store experience to exclude them.