Valve’s Inconsistency on Adult Steam Games Frustrates Visual Novel Developers

Valve’s Inconsistency on Adult Steam Games Frustrates Visual Novel Developers

Valve is once again showing their lack of consistency on how they handle adult content. Four visual novel developers had a scare when Valve said their games were reported for “pornographic” content and must be edited or they will be removed in two weeks. Although three of the developers are having their games re-reviewed and are no longer in danger, this points to the problematic inconsistency Valve shows in allowing adult content.

WARNING: While this article doesn’t have any NSFW pictures, it talks about mature topics and links to pages that may be risque. Viewer discretion advised.

A history of sexiness (or lack thereof) on Steam

As a platform for video games, Steam has always had issues with what they consider kosher for adult material. Back in 2012, they removed a bunch of games from the now defunct Steam Greenlight program for sexual content. Valve have said that “Steam has never been a leading destination for erotic material,” but some sex games have made it onto Steam. The games are often patched to cover up some of the naughtiness, but developers often offer ways to un-patch them on their website. What muddied the waters more was the release of the yuri visual novel Kindred Spirits in 2015. It’s also not uncommon to see explicit games in the new releases tab on the store.

July 2017 marked more removals of sexually explicit games from the store. One of these was House Party, a lewd joke game about hooking up with women at the titular house party. You could tell it’s corny given the fact that there’s a button solely devoted to whipping it out. The developers added censor bars to the game and they were allowed to re-upload it. A more permanent casualty was You Must be 18 or Older to Enter, an ASCII horror-sex-comedy game about looking at murky, low-poly, ASCII porn for the first time and hoping your parents don’t catch you.  Meanwhile, Christine Love managed to get Ladykiller in a Bind on Steam. The game is a lesbian visual novel with BDSM, but it allowed players to skip sex scenes. There’s also a “safe for work” mode that replaces nudity with tasteful Christmas sweaters.

Too sexy for Steam?

A few days ago, some visual novel developers reported that they received emails from Steam. The emails informed them that their games were reported for pornographic content. They had two weeks to remove the offending content or their games would be removed from Steam. Some of these developers and their games are:

  • Lupiesoft, creators of Mutiny!!.
  • Huniepot, creators of Huniepop.
  • Neko Works, creators of Neko Para.
  • MangaGamer, creators of Kindred Spirits. This one is notable for being the least offensive. It arrived on Steam uncensored, and reportedly only features topless female nudity after many hours of gameplay.

The emails are especially confusing because the creators attest that they didn’t sneak onto the platform. In a blog post regarding the removal of Kindred Spirits, a MangaGamer representative said:

We went to great pains to run the game’s content by Valve representatives––including sending along every potentially questionable graphical asset along with advanced builds of the title––to ensure that that feeling was mutual. The game would have never appeared on the platform if we had not confirmed with Valve representatives that they did not feel the content was pornographic and was appropriate for the platform.

The latest in this round of Calvinball involves three of the developers (MangaGamer, Huniepot, and Lupiesoft) being told by Valve that their games are being re-reviewed. They’ll inform the developers of any concerns and their games are currently no longer in danger. However, this incident is again showing Valve’s inconsistency on dealing with adult themes. Why, The Witcher III  has some explicit looking nudity and sex scenes, even if the player never sees any genitalia. Despite this, it has had very little problems with Steam.

More on this confusing sexiness saga can be found here and here.