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Recently Valve announced a groundbreaking
change of policy in regards to how it polices

the Steam store.
No longer will games be pulled from the store
or even rejected altogether for inconsistent

and confusing reasons.
Now, a new policy is being worked on that
will allow all games to be sold - no matter

how potentially offensive or objectionable
the content is, as long as it's not "illegal"

or "straight up trolling".
The news was revealed in a blog post from
June 6th 2018.

Here Valve posted a lengthy write up where
they explained their position on the issue

of "Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store" and
their new approach going forward.

To break things down, firstly, Valve dispelled
the notion that any outside forces, including

payment processors, influence Steam's decisions
to not allow certain games.

Some payment processors, for instance, are
known to want to distance themselves from

businesses dealing in certain adult services
and it has been speculated by some that this

could part of the reason.
However, it turns out that this isn't true.
Valve has said that zero outside forces contribute
to their decisions.

They also clearly state that all decisions
are handled by actual people within the company

and that nothing is automated.
So, with that notion, they then go into how
hard it's been to weigh up whether certain

titles should be allowed to be sold or not.
They admit that the current method is confusing
to everybody - customers, developers and even

within the Steam staff themselves, where disagreements
can sometimes arise.

It's clear that some changes needed to be
made and Valve explains how they went back

to one of their founding principles as a company
- this being to give as much freedom to both

consumers and creators as possible.
They state:
"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."

They then go on to say:
"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.
As we mentioned earlier, laws vary around
the world, so we're going to need to handle

this on a case-by-case basis.
As a result, we will almost certainly continue
to struggle with this one for a while.

Our current thinking is that we're going to
push developers to further disclose any potentially

problematic content in their games during
the submission process, and cease doing business

with any of them that refuse to do so honestly.
We'll still continue to perform technical
evaluations of submissions, rejecting games

that don't pass until their issues have been

The rest of the post clarifies that just because

Valve allows certain games, it doesn't necessarily
mean that they agree with them.

It also notes that the required tools for
opening up for the store in this way are still

being worked on, so you shouldn't expect these
changes to be immediate, but that this is

something that will be coming in future, when
it's ready.

This is clearly a landmark decision, with
Steam being by far the largest and most influential

distribution platform for PC.
The decision has come following numerous recent
controversies over games running into issues

with Steam's policies and facing removal.
For instance, at least 12 developers, including
the dev for the popular HunniePop, were all

rounded up last month and received an email
saying that unless they removed adult content

from their games that the games would be pulled.
Valve then got in touch with all the developers
again and said to disregard the previous emails

and that the games will be re-reviewed and
they will follow up if there are any issues.

This didn't end up happening, but it naturally
left all of the developers affected feeling

confused and uncertain about their future
on the platform.

As mentioned earlier, the change in rules
will finally clear up any confusion like this,

over what is and isn't allowed, and will ultimately
allows creators to feel much more secure.

Steam has been criticised many times over
the years due to their vague and inconsistent

rulings and this will now be something that's
much clearer.

To help explain what exactly is changing,
let's begin by looking at the current rules

for games published on the Steam platform.
The current system offers this basic 10 point
list for what isn't allowed on Steam and then

no further info or context to supplement it.
Leaving things vague has allowed Valve to
police things how they see fit, but this is

to the detriment of developers who want to
abide by their rules but aren't sure what

crosses the line and what doesn't.
For example, rule 2 blocks "pornography" with
no further details and what is and isn't classed

as this.
You do not have to look further than games
like Grand Theft Auto to be able to see both

nudity and sex on the Steam Store.
In fact, many big modern games now include
adult content, yet these are seen as not falling

foul of the rule.
It's not just AAA games, though.
You can even find some indie titles on Steam
with not just full frontal nudity, but detailed

and fully graphic sex scenes, such as Ladykiller
In A Bind.

Ladykiller In A Bind is a 2016 indie visual
novel and Valve approved its release despite

its graphic nature.
Many other games, though, will require censorship.
This is normally done through the use of optional,
external patches that will uncensor the game.

However, last year Steam started to become
stricter on these patches too.

The visual novel publisher MangaGamer, whose
games often require censorship to be allowed

on Steam, said this last November:
"On Friday, we received a notice from Valve

demanding that we remove all links and discussion
of adult patches from official sources on

Steam, including the Steam Store Pages, and
Steam Discussion boards.

This is in direct conflict with what we discussed
with Valve during our meeting with them, and

Valve has not yet given us a reason why this
policy has changed."

Other developers spoke of similar treatment
and it is now common practise to not discuss

any censorship patches officially within the

And all of this is despite the inconsistent
nature of the rulings.

Whilst Valve makes some developers jump through
hoop after hoop to get their games to their

audience, others are given a free pass fully

Some games will be censored from the get go,
especially those from bigger companies who

are used to Steam's treatment, such as MangaGamer.
Others though, will attempt an uncensored
release but then get pulled from the store

by Valve not long after release.
This happened with 2017's House Party, for
instance, a click and point adventure game

that's somewhat similar in style to the Leisure
Suit Larry series.

The devs then had to censor any nudity to
be allowed to put the game back on the store.

It's not just suggestive content either.
Steam has been known to pull other controversial
titles, like it did originally with 2015's,

ultra violent twin stick shooter, Hatred.
The game was later then put back on the store,
without being toned down, but only after massive

backlash over its removal.
As you can see, Valve's new announcement should
completely change these problems.

Not only are the rules much less confusing,
although the "straight-up trolling" policy

could admittedly be seen as still somewhat
subjective in nature... but now, as long as

it's nothing illegal, devs should no longer
have to worry about any rules at all.

What do you think about the decision to open
up the store in this way?

Do you support the decision?
Would you like to see other platforms follow
in Steam's footsteps?

Let us know what you think in the comments
below and, until next time, thank you for

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Why Steam's New Censorship Policy Is A Big Deal

94 Folder Collection
wei published on December 16, 2018
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