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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 resolved.

  • " 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 platform.

  • 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 uncensored.

  • 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

  • watching.

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

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Why Steam's New Censorship Policy Is A Big Deal

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    wei posted on 2018/12/16
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