Valve has had some recent difficulties involving what they allow onto the Steam store. In an official blog post yesterday, they announced just how they’re going to handle policing the store. In short, anything goes, unless it’s illegal or “straight-up trolling.”
Day Two: Gabe’s Dilemma
Yesterday afternoon, Valve posted a lengthy blog post written by Erik Johnson regarding discussions about the games they’re allowing on the Steam store. This is most likely in reference to the adult visual novel debacle and the school shooting game that was briefly on the market. Erik informed readers that their decisions weren’t based off of pressure from payment processors and real people review the games for content. Their decision, ultimately, is this:
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.
Steam: Year 2018
What this says overall is that Steam is going even more hands-off with their policing. It also sounds like they’ll have customers simply hide games that they dislike or offends them.
There are some who are pleased by this decision, such as the developer of HuniePop, one of the games involved in the adult visual novel story. However, quite a few people are legitimately worried about how this might dilute the marketplace. Steam has a history of being a place where almost any game, even shovelware or asset flips, can be sold. There was a time when a game like Bad Rats, the Steam equivalent of a gag gift, was a unique rarity, but those days are long past. Tyler Wilde on PC Gamer calls Valve’s policy “doomed from the start,” and Ben Kuchera on Polygon simply titled his article “Valve gives up on responsibility.” A policy of “Don’t like it? Just hide it” won’t keep people from hearing about offensive games on social media. And the tag system, if used for this new control, will likely be highly inaccurate. The ‘Psychological Horror’ tag, for example, is thrown around on even the goofiest of titles.
Who knows how Valve’s decision will turn out, but it’s likely going to be an extremely controversial decision.
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