Gaming platform Valve just released an announcement that they will no longer be censoring most content on the Steam store.
Last month, makers of Japanese-style games with sexual content started reporting on Twitter that they might have to take their games down off of the popular game store Steam, which is run by parent company Valve. They received notifications from Valve that they had to make changes to games that had been reported for “pornographic content,” or risk being pulled from the platform in two weeks. The games included Mutiny!!, Re;Lord 1, Kindred Spirits on the Roof, Tropical Liquor, and VR Kanojo.
In response to the initial Twitter outcry, Valve reportedly lifted the two-week timeline and told game developers that they would be “re-reviewing” their games. Now, Valve has announced on the Steam blog that they will not be censoring the types of games allowed on the platform, expect for ones that are “illegal or straight up trolling.”
“Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this,” the company said on their blog. “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.”
Instead of trying to decide for their entire audience — or even come to agreement inside their large company — on what’s okay and what’s not, Valve says they’re going to refocus that time and energy on developing new tools to help people filter the Steam store and to help support developers.
“We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you’re not interested in,” they wrote. “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.”
The end result is a free speech-approach, where all speech is allowed and the market will determine what succeeds — and what fails.
“It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don’t think should exist,” they continued. “Unless you don’t have any opinions, that’s guaranteed to happen. But you’re also going to see something on the Store that you believe should be there, and some other people will hate it and want it not to exist.”
James, of MiKandi Japan, is cautiously optimistic about this move.
“If Valve sticks to this approach then it’s especially good news for creators who feel like they’re constantly under attack by the censorship police,” James says. “For example, we just noticed this week that Tumblr has banned ‘hentai’ and ‘ecchi’ hashtags on their Android app. Even with Safe Mode turned off, searching for these words yields zero results.”
But while this move is generally good news for creators of games with adult content, James points out that this move — and Valve “playing the victim” — still doesn’t tell us why adult games were blocked in the first place. However, this isn’t the first time that a platform has suddenly turned on creators of adult content with no warning — Patreon famously did the same last year — and it certainly won’t be the last. But luckily, we here at MiKandi pride ourselves in being the website where adults can be adults. Any game makers and adult graphic novelists who just don’t want to deal with this issue again are welcome to come join us on MiKandi. You can contact us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.