Valve has been dealing with a string of controversies regarding what games are allowed on its popular Steam marketplace. Valve's mixed-messaging on various games have left customers and developers confused over what is and isn't allowed on the platform. Today Valve finally gives an answer to the confusion. What's allowed on Steam? Pretty much anything.
Confusion about the company's Steam policy have been a regular point of discussion lately after Valve seemingly flip-flopped on whether sexually-explicit visual novels were allowed on the platform (they're under review). The conversation continued over a game about a school shooting (it was pulled from Steam), to a game about killing babies in hell (it was allowed but had to comply with ESRB ratings).
"The online debates around these topics play out inside Valve as well. We don't all agree on what deserves to be on the Store," writes Valve's Erik Johnson in a Steam blog post. He admits that the company's case-by-case review of games is subject to the same debates as Valve's community. So rather than struggle with the deliberations, Valve is going to open the floodgates. Or at least open them in a measured way.
"Recently there's been a bunch of community discussion around what kind of games we're allowing on the Steam Store. As is often the case, the discussion caused us to spend some time examining what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we could do it better," explains Johnson. "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."
This means that Valve will police less what goes on the store but will continue to make reviews of games for legality based on laws around the world. They'll also ask more from developers to detail problematic content in their games and will sever ties with devs that lie or misrepresent what's in their games.
So that customers don't see content they might find objectionable or not within their interests, Valve will expand tools that will help customers control what kind of games they see on Steam. "So if you don't want to see anime games on your Store, you'll be able to make that choice," writes Johnson.
There's no delivery date on when these changes will take place, but it sounds like Valve still needs to deliver guidelines and expectations of what its new policies will mean for developers who want their games on Steam. "If you're a player, we should 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."