Valve threatening removal of visual novels with ‘adult content’, some authorised years ago say MangaGamer

Kindred Spirits on the Roof - Declared shameless pornography

Nerves are a little frayed across the visual novel development scene, as Valve have apparently issued warnings to several developers and publishers, threatening to remove their games from Steam unless they are edited to remove ‘pornographic content’.

The largest confirmation of this comes from prolific VN publisher MangaGamer, who have received several of these notices, including one for Kindred Spirits on the Roof, a game which they explicitly ran past Valve representatives to confirm that it was not pornographic in nature. Valve agreed – at the time – and allowed it to go on sale back in February of 2016. The deal, as Darth Vader would say, has been altered.

This just seems to be the latest round in Valve’s never-ending game of Calvinball regarding what exactly constitutes ‘adult content’ on Steam. Their guidelines for what is actually allowed for sale on Steam are notoriously vague, and no public-facing definition of what is allowed has been published, merely that it should not be ‘pornographic’. Apparently they are free to change their internal definition of pornography without telling anyone, which is fully within their legal rights, but also an enormous pain in the arse for anyone wanting to release a game even vaguely near the limits of what is supposedly allowed.

Genital Jousting - Family-friendly (give or take)

In MangaGamer’s statement, they claim to be entirely in the dark as to what has changed regarding Valve’s official policy on adult content. While they’ve been ordered to make changes to conform to these new rules, as far as anyone can tell, there are no new rules. It’s a surreal Catch 22 situation, and even a quick glance at Steam reveals that these rules are very inconsistently applied. Horror-sex-comedy You Must Be 18 or Older To Enter was suddenly pulled from Steam, as a good example of how capriciously Valve seem to handle the issue.

While some of the games to receive warnings are more overtly sexual, such as the notorious adult puzzle game Huniepop, Kindred Spirits on the Roof appears positively tame in comparison to a vast number of AAA titles. The sex scenes in The Witcher 3 are vastly more rude, and while you could argue that the likes of Genital Jousting is comedic rather than pornographic, you can’t deny that it’s a wildly explicit game about giant thrusting cocks plunging into orifices. Somehow, I doubt that will be receiving a written warning from Valve, either.

Other visual novel authors are understandably quite nervous right now. Christine Love – author of steamy bondage adventure Ladykiller in a Bind – says that she hasn’t received a warning from Valve, but if they’re even halfway consistent about their policies here, especially looking at how comparatively innocuous Kindred Spirits is, then it’s more of a matter of ‘when’ than ‘if’. Many visual novel creators and publishers are already looking for alternative storefronts, and with so much confusion surrounding what is even valid to sell on Steam it’s hard to blame them.

192 Comments

  1. SaintAn says:

    So tired of Valve trying to choke the life out of PC gaming and force censorship on art. Now more than ever is competition against them needed.
    I will celebrate like the end of Return of the Jedi when Gabe’s shriveled greedy heart finally gives out. Yub nub.

    • Artist says:

      Was overdue that Steam does something against teenage/underaged sex consumed by adults looking for teenage sex. Its not art – its perverts fantasies.

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        You mean ‘anime’. Your characterisation of it as pederasty says less about the actual content than it does about your attitude towards it.

      • rubmon says:

        By that logic, all games that have you fantasize about killing innocent people should be banned too.

        • Artist says:

          Please dont abuse “logic” and bring up a strawman.

          • Kitsunin says:

            This wasn’t strawman. Your first point is poorly written, to sum up the logic within it “a game contains something, therefore people who play the game want that in real life. Because it’s something someone fantasizes about, it isn’t art.” (note that it took me more effort to sum this up than it took you to write it in the first place — if I’m wrong about your meaning, that’s because you didn’t state it clearly).

            That being the case, this logic can certainly be extended to violence without it being a strawman. By your same logic, games which contain violence must be consumed by people who wish to perpetrate violence in real life. Because they exist to indulge those people’s fantasies, such games about violence are not art.

            The problems is you’re making a logical leap between games containing something and people wanting that thing for real.

          • Kitsunin says:

            The reason bringing up violence is rhetorically useful is not because it’s a strawman. It’s because, if your logic, unaltered, can argue for something you yourself cannot agree with when applied elsewhere, this proves your logic is flawed.

          • Chris2999 says:

            Pot meet kettle.

      • Xiuhnan says:

        Would you rather that people that play said games for the underaged girls go out and pick out real-life underage girls and rape them and own their pictures which ultimately ruin their lives? You don’t seem to get it. I love these types of games, because I feel like I can connect with the story, the people that play it while “choking their chicken” are masturbating to drawn underage girls and not real-life ones. Or is that your goal? Do you want to ban these people and trigger them to do something that would ruin a poor girls life?

        • Artist says:

          Read up about “proper argumentation” and come up with an argument. Untill then its pointless to discuss with idiots.

          • Kitsunin says:

            Don’t expect anyone to argue with you properly if you aren’t going to put effort into your own argument. It takes far more effort to properly refute someone than to say some snappy line like “it’s not art — it’s pervert fantasies”, so you don’t get to say “read about proper argumentation” until you’re ready to spend more than a minute on your own damn point.

          • Kitsunin says:

            And yes, I’m a hypocrite for saying this when I basically did just that before. But I do care about this topic. I’m not generally into teen romance featuring sex, but I did find Katawa Shoujo to be a wonderful story, and I’d really hate if the next equally good story doesn’t get made because it won’t be profitable thanks to Valve’s censorship.

        • mike69 says:

          This is what’s known as a ‘false dilemma’. The logical fallacies are out in force.

          • Kitsunin says:

            It is a false dilemma, but at least this person is arguing for why games with underage sex are good. The previous argument was “it’s teenage/underaged sex consumed by adults looking for teenage sex.” And if we accept that part we’re still supposed to just assume that this is a bad thing.

            And besides, there is a real argument to be made that indulging people’s fantasies safely does prevent them from indulging them for real. There just isn’t the data for such an argument. But nor is there data to argue indulging such fantasies is dangerous.

      • YourMomWillDoIt says:

        personally i do not give a beep about these games and manga in general, i just watched through a lets play of one the games. i agree that some of these games with girls with huge boobs in school uniforms are sexist and stupid in general, but it obviously is not like this with all games. on the one hand violence is glorified in many games without any repercussions and showing the cruel and dirty side of wars like in counterstrike and various other war games and other valve games on the other hand “porn” is blamed for the youth being spoiled. game companies need to step up their responsibility in general and develop games that make people smarter instead of making people dumb. that being said, i think many of these mangas are pretty braindead, but there is a few really good ones as well.

  2. ChucklesNuts says:

    This whole thing has been discussed time and time again that a clear and cut policy is not in place. VALVE has failed the community let alone the developers.

    If nudity isn’t allowed then by all means the number of AAA titles like GTA need removal. And I guarantee Rockstar will not have any of it and will fight it.

    Singling out VNs is a crime against a culture and it is VALVE violating their own policies.

    VALVE needs to get its s#it together and get with these developers and have a sit down and write a public policy that everyone agrees on.

    If sex isn’t allowed on steam, what is next? Racism? So then Mafia 3 needs to be removed.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      Yeah there are dozens of AAA games with bare 3D breasts in sexual situations. It’s impossible to draft a coherent policy that would allow those but ban certain VNs, and more to the point I have no idea why the hell you’d want to.

      The only relevant line would be a legal one that regulates porn, but, like, Game of Thrones is not porn either.

      • mike69 says:

        You guys are presenting this argument quite strangely.

        The presence of breasts doesn’t make something pornographic. Game of Thrones isn’t porn. So GTA is a straw man.

        A visual novel that’s entire purpose is to titillate with sexually explicit imagery and writing is pornographic in nature.

        Don’t get me wrong I don’t care if steam sells weeb porn or not as long as it’s appropriately categorised and never shown to me, but let’s be clear on the context here. Whats needed is a proper policy so developers and consumers know their place, nobody is banning boobs.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Kindred Spirits isn’t that though?

          The sex stuff in it is basically comparable to the scenes in Mass Effect and it’s not the focus of the story as the whole thing is more about the main character being a matchmaker.

          In fact the thing was made for women.

          • Sian says:

            “In fact the thing was made for women.”

            So? You don’t actually think there isn’t porn that’s made explicitly for women, do you? Or that things made for women can’t be porn.

          • napoleonic says:

            In fact the thing was made for women.

            What does that have to do with anything?

        • kutchinka says:

          I get your point, but the question is where to draw the line?
          if 2% of a game’s content is adult only, would you consider it “Solely pornographic”?
          kindred spirits on the roof is a 30 hour long Visual novel. it is a romance VN. if you take all of the adult scenes together and count the minutes, you will reach about 1 hour. that is about 3% of the game. is that pornography?
          plus, another possible solution that some developers use is separating the adult scenes and publishing the game without it and the adult scenes can be added back onto the steam game with a patch, either on steam or outside steam. that should be more then enough to clear a game from allegations of pornography. honestly, asking a game to just be removed is against artistic freedom.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Or, god forbid, gun violence. There goes 80% of the catalog.

      There is a gradient though. GTA definitely has some sexy time, but it’s not overriding theme of the game like true pornography is.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Seems they go down the Spotify route. Glad I’m not a user there.
      There’s only one thing going to stop Steam and that is consumer backlash expressed in lower revenues.
      Besides there’s no porn on Steam atm and the “sexual content” -tag is a joke so there’s that.
      Would be interesting to know about the background of this. Fundamentalist influence groups? Gaben doesn’t look exactly like a taliban nut on first sight.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Gaben supported the Hatred devs who include a few open neonazis.

        I don’t think he’s a taliban type though. Just one of the “all speech must be allowed,” until he runs into something that can hurt his store legally.

        • Chaoslord AJ says:

          I’m all for “all speech is allowed” and “hands off” but selling someone’s games for profit isn’t the same as allowing them free ramblings on the street corner in the constitutional manner.

        • KDR_11k says:

          Strikes me as the Solicon Valley ethos, “if the algorithm can’t do it for us then we won’t do it”. Like most big tech companies they seem very averse to anything that would require human interaction.

      • ChiefOfBeef says:

        Rumour doing the rounds(take with salt, people claiming responsibility doesn’t mean it’s true) are that a conservative pressure-group have been spamming the report button for certain games and this is what has caused this rather than a change in policy at Valve.

        The group is Morality In Media, but they are apparently hiding behind a front: the guise being a radical feminist group, using the same words and terms as the Left to disguise the fact that they are just the American Religious Right. This is a tactic intended to avoid critical attention in the media and over the last 48 hours it seems to have worked if this is really the case.

        I’m about 60% sure this is the case and if so, then they have started on the ‘soft targets’ like anime-style games that are outright meant to be erotically-provocative. They do appear to have other games which they oppose, including The Witcher 3 and Mass Effect: Andromeda. If they ‘win’ this first round, then there actually isn’t much reason in principle why their argument wouldn’t apply to more mainstream games. They are not targeting games for ‘pornographic’ content(the games in question have already been cleared by Valve as not being pornographic) but for the broader themes of sexual exploitation, defined in the broadest and vaguest terms.

        • mlj11 says:

          Oh yay, the American Religious Right using Neo-Feminists as a front. The paragons of all things virtuous hiding behind they-who-can-do-no-wrong. What an unimpeachable combination.

  3. Neurotic says:

    Just get rid of all these stupid, manga/anime/pseudo-JRPG rubbish games. So tired of seeing this colourful cartoon crap on the Store page. The limit on the number of tags you can filter out means I still see these weird big-eyed kids all over the place. :p

    • kalirion says:

      FYI your asshole is showing.

    • dethtoll says:

      Man, I hate anime, but you sound really unpleasant.

    • OmNomNom says:

      People hating on your comment but I agree, this crap really does ruin steam.
      It doesn’t help that the terrible filtering system and weak tag enforcement etc means i can’t not see it.
      At this rate there should just be an anime steam knockoff that gives fans a place to and be amongst their own

      • brucethemoose says:

        If Valve would just crack down on tag enforcement it would help a ton. It’s really stupid on the dev’s part anyway, as it makes their games harder to find.

      • April March says:

        Yeah, other people using stuff I use to do things they like but I don’t ruins stuff for me. Maybe after Valve sets an example cities can ban people from jogging in the sidewalks I use to walk and ban cars I don’t like from streets I drive in.

        • anon459 says:

          Cities already keep homeless people constantly on the run for the same reason and culture gaps are only widening so I predict more contention on issues like this in the future. Unity and acceptance don’t seem to be catching on as quickly as some expected.

      • napoleonic says:

        there should just be an anime steam knockoff There is, it’s called Nutaku. But like all merchants, developers of anime games want to be where the biggest market is, and that market is Steam.

    • malkav11 says:

      We get it. These games aren’t for you. The problem isn’t with them existing, it’s with Steam failing to enable you to filter them out or usefully sort their store in pretty much any way. If the solution were to expunge any genre anyone didn’t care about and didn’t want to see in their Steam recs, the store would be empty and Valve would go out of business.

      • dagnamit says:

        “game” is a fairly charitable description. even Dear Esther is more of a game than most of this stuff.

        • Petethegoat says:

          the ‘game’ elitist has logged on

        • malkav11 says:

          And that’s relevant to my point how?

          • shde2e says:

            As far as I can see, it’s not.

            Steam sells business software for Gideon’s sake. VN’s are well within their portfolio if they want to sell them.

        • Rindan says:

          Why would anyone care what you consider to be a game? Steam sells (mostly) entertainment software. Whether or not you consider a walking sim to be a real game or not is pretty irrelevant. Some people finding it entertaining. Steam will happily sell it to them for money.

      • Archonsod says:

        “it’s with Steam failing to enable you to filter them out or usefully sort their store in pretty much any way”

        It’s a fair point. I’ve got Steam set to filter out VR, movies, free to play and MMO’s yet I still frequently get them in my queue and on the storefront. This should be basic functionality these days – there’s webstores ran by a single dude from their garage which do a better job of presenting relevant content than Valve seem able to manage.

        • Chaoslord AJ says:

          Same here. I’ve filtered MMO. I think it affects only some queues down the store page but stuff is still shown because in the end they want you to buy the games anyway.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Personally I’d prefer they ditched all these bloody violent murder simulators and left the games about emotions and romance alone.

      • Vastial says:

        Love and romance? They’re overly sexualized cartoons styled to look like children. Nevermind the BDSM imagery in quite a fair few. This genre is weird and it’s fanbase creepy as hell.

        • Shazbut says:

          But that’s not true of all of them, and that’s the problem. Some are brilliant, or at least they are to the people who like them which is good enough.

          When I was a teenager, a visual novel with erotic content changed my life for the better more than any other work in any medium has done before or since. I am so thankful I played it when I did and that it was around at that time. That was over ten years ago now.

          Why so many of them are as bad as you say, I’ve no idea, but please don’t casually dismiss the whole genre. A visual novel is just a way of telling a story at heart, and there have been some stories written that were damn worth telling.

        • Rince says:

          Woah, I play anime games, and I don’t remember seeing games like that in my store page. Maybe you’re actively searching for them?

      • OmNomNom says:

        Which is equally as relevant, you should be able to block all games of that nature from your lists if you so choose.

    • Don Reba says:

      Let’s all agree to limit games to grey, brown, and two colours of the developer’s choice. Anything over the limit shall have no place on Steam!

    • sion12 says:

      99% of steam game is pure trash anyway, even without VN/anime game.

  4. aircool says:

    Our so called liberal society calls for yet more censorship. I think those ‘visual novels’ are just crappy titillation, but if people want to buy them, then let them; surely that’s what being liberal is all about, not clamping down on what we can and can’t access :/

    • crazyd says:

      It’s not censorship when a private business decides they do not want to sell a product in their store. Forcing a company to sell something that they don’t want to is anti-free market.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        It’s also incredibly sketchy business when a store declares that something that they’ve stocked for years is now forbidden under new rules that only the store themselves have seen, and refuse to show anyone, leaving nobody sure of what is or isn’t allowed for sale.

        And then you add to that the fact that the existing rules are wildly inconsistent in their application and suddenly nobody knows anything anymore. That’s just bad business.

        • crazyd says:

          Maybe, but posting rules just leads to people pushing the boundaries of those rules, leading to an arms race of new rules. I think Valve is well within their rights to decide that they do not want to sell porn, and the definition of what “porn” is is notoriously subjective.

          • crazyd says:

            I just wanted to say that I’m not saying I think Valve made a Morally Right decision that is in the benefit of the public and the developers. I think this is a kinda shitty move, I’m just saying it’s their right, and trying to see their motivation. This is all kinda devil’s advocate-y.

          • Dominic Tarason says:

            The devil has plenty of advocates already.

          • crazyd says:

            Not in this article. I just don’t think it’s so nuts for a private company to look at a match 3 game with cheesecake girls and an officially supported nude patch and go, “This is more porn than game”. There’s a fine line between game salesman and pornographer, and that line is extremely subjective. I can understand owners of a company not wanting to be pornographers, and making a subjective call to remove something that technically meets the letter of the law but is still more porn than game.

            I also understand how this makes devs nervous for their futures, and personally wish that Steam was a truly open platform with hard rules that they had to follow. Valve is not operating in the way that I wish they would behave, but it’s definitely operating in an understandable manner when you think of it as an business ran by people rather than a fascist dictatorship.

          • MrEvilGuy says:

            You seem to have some paranoia about state regulation in your comments. Let’s be clear, nobody in this thread suggested that the government step in and force Valve to sell pornographic games.

          • malkav11 says:

            In principle, I want to support their right to not support certain types of content by offering it a platform for sales. But a) when you have a near monopoly you need to be a lot more fucking careful about exercising that sort of prerogative, and b) I personally think a little sexual content is a ridiculous place to draw the line, especially when they’ve had no interest in drawing pretty well any other line, quite a few of which I would think have a lot more actual import, both financial and moral.

            Either way, they need to have a clearly signposted standard if they’re going to have one at all.

          • rebochan says:

            “Maybe, but posting rules just leads to people pushing the boundaries of those rules, leading to an arms race of new rules. I think Valve is well within their rights to decide that they do not want to sell porn, and the definition of what “porn” is is notoriously subjective.”

            That is the stupidest thing I’ve read all day. Think this through – you’re saying “We can have rules, but we can’t tell you what those are because if you did know the rules, you might follow them and then we’d need more rules to stop you from following the old rules.”

            Holy shit dude, you’d have been great to keep around during the Hays Code, they’d probably give you a great job being a cultural gatekeeper.

            Also, Valve doesn’t get my goodwill in this situation because they’re still well-known for allowing hundreds of ripped-off Unity levels to be posted as full games on their platform and they’re still okay with their platform being a cesspool of hate speech and Nazis. They don’t get to play “SCANDAL!” with HuniePop this late in the game.

          • kutchinka says:

            mate, you just made my day. this is hilarious. “we can’t tell you the rules because you will try to push them”. the whole point of rules is to say what is ok and what isn’t. if people push the line, that means they are still within the line- conclusion- they follow the rules. if the rules are unclear, people will be either less careful or overly careful, neither are a good thing.

        • rusty says:

          That sounds exactly like real life.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Part of the problem is the “failure” of the free market here: Valve has a near monopoly on PC gaming storefronts. It’s not that bad as far as monopolies go, but publishers that aren’t megacorps are totally reliant on Steam for sales.

        In an ideal market, we’d have multiple competitive storefronts with diverse policies, so that publishers always have somewhere else to turn to.

        While I don’t think the government should force valve to sell anything (yet), there are cases where doing exactly that is pro free-market, like net neutrality.

        • crazyd says:

          I am definitely in agreement with you on this. The “free market” line was a little tongue in cheek, playing against the guy’s clear anti-liberal bent.

          • April March says:

            But this is exactly while the liberal thinking of the free market righting itself doesn’t work. Under completely free market, the most efficient corporation gains a soft monopoly. Once they do so, they set the market’s rules, and can set it in a way that their position is difficult to challenge, and in ways society doesn’t want to see. This is difficult enough to control in any society that has a modicum of economic freedom.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            “Free market” is a libertarian conservative idea, not liberal.

            And its pushed by the right because it’s open to abuse by large corporations. It’s working as intended.

            This censorship is far likely more pushed by right wing groups as well. Likely religiously motivated.

          • dethtoll says:

            Depends on how you define “liberal.” In the US, I find that political liberals (i.e. the people who vote Democrat, wear pussy hats, and ignore the working class) are very supportive of capitalism and the free market in implicit rather than explicit ways.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            Well that’s because the US doesn’t have a mainstream liberal faction.

            Only a right wing (socially centrist) and extreme right wing (socially extremely conservative.). Both very authoritarian.

          • Shyntae says:

            Free market is just an economic theory. It doesn’t prevent regulation. Even worse, it demonstrates that free market is optimal for the community under several conditions:
            – All external factors have to be internalized in the economy in order for them to be taken into account (for instance, if polluting is bad, it has either to be forbidden, or to cost money to people doing it)
            – All economic actors have to be small. Monopolies break the free market model advantages for society.

            However, the theory demonstrates that free market is mathematically unstable and lead to monopoly if left unregulated.

            So… if you want a working free market economy, you probably need state regulation.
            link to en.wikipedia.org

        • Archonsod says:

          “Valve has a near monopoly on PC gaming storefronts. ”

          Being the most successful storefront doesn’t make it a monopoly.

          • malkav11 says:

            It does make it a near monopoly, though. They have the vast majority of the PC gaming market, at this point, though I’d have to do some research to give precise numbers (assuming they’re even available). And you don’t have to have as much market dominance as Steam does to be able to strong-arm vendors into making calls for a product that affect it potentially everywhere it’s sold – there are a number of cases of Wal-mart forcing content to be cut or bleeped in movies and music albums for sale in their stores and the vendor not being able to either turn them down (because Wal-mart was such a substantial part of their sales) or afford to produce a separate uncut version for other retailers. And Wal-mart, while doing its best to introduce regional monopolies, has as far as I know never been even 60% of its overall market(s).

          • airmikee99 says:

            Just because AT&T was the most successful phone company didn’t mean they were a monopoly, right?

          • shde2e says:

            In the US at least, phone companies do often achieve a local monopoly.

    • Kamalen says:

      Liberal society ? If anything, you can blame that sort of new ruling on powerful conservative and religious pression groups.

      • Imperialist says:

        Idk, the easy argument could be made that many of these games ABSOLUTELY objectify women. Japanese media has had this problem for a while now. Either side of the ideological spectrum could find it repugnant and juvenile.

    • Beefenstein says:

      “Our so called liberal society calls for yet more censorship.”

      You’re so-called endorsement of a free market where private interests can make their own rules without state intervention is shown to be a lie.

  5. kalirion says:

    Lengthy writeup here: link to techraptor.net

  6. InternetBatman says:

    Just let the creators put an adult tag on it, and quarantine kid accounts from that tag. Is it that hard?

    • brucethemoose says:

      But how do you enforce the tagging?

      What if a game is squarely in a gray area, and the publisher doesn’t want the adult tag to open it to a wider audience? Where do you draw the line?

      Courts have been struggling with this for decades, if not centuries. And I think part of the problem is the black-white labeling: it’s porn, or it’s not porn.

      What steam needs is a gradient. Let the publisher or reviewers rate the sexuality of the game on a sliding scale, and give users the ability to filter games above a certain threshold on that scale.

      • malkav11 says:

        There’s already a ratings agency. Use the ESRB rating if supplied, have an “unrated” category for unrated games that can be turned off in parental settings and that’s opt-in otherwise.

      • April March says:

        Where do you draw the line?

        You ask yourself which do you think is better: than kids can play some sexy games that aren’t all-out porn, or that some non-porn games can’t be played by kids because they have boobies or sex or whatever.

        If you choose the first, you let devs self-police and only act in egregious cases.

        If you choose the latter, you create a set of strict rules and ask devs to self-police, while also having mechanisms that force them into the adult ‘zone’ if they don’t self-police well, as well as other punishments if lots of abuse crop up.

        (Spoiler: a US corporation will always choose the latter. It’s not what I would choose, but I’d understand that choice.)

        After that is done, devs can sell any games they want to, clients can buy whatever games they want to, and the corporation gets money on all sales and no one judges them for promoting pornography. Success!

  7. racccoon says:

    Vavle has to realise they aren’t just gathering victims who are juvenile, 98% of the victims who constantly use Steam are adults and therefore Steam should know this and allow the adult content to bought and played. As usual Steam/Valve are pitter pattering about with policies and not owner up to real big picture they have fro the future.

    • DefinitelyNotHans says:

      You really aren’t very good at this trolling business at all. Change your name, learn how to do it properly, try again.

  8. tsff22 says:

    Apparently a far-right Christian fundamentalist “family values” group has claimed responsibility for mass report spamming valve regarding the affected games.

    Considering that they are openly BRAGGING about it on their main site and their official Twitter, this seems like an open and shut case of “abuse of the report system”, “falsified reports”, or whatever the proper term is for these kinds of situations.

  9. dsch says:

    Problem with Valve is that they are a tech/games company being asked to deal with social/political issues. They never had to do this before games went really mainstream, and they have no idea how to handle polarising social questions. Their solution has been to try to have as little public exposure to the problem as possible, hence no explicit statement on what is and is not allowed, while trying to shimmy behind the scenes to avoid catch any flak as far as possible.

    • Dominic Tarason says:

      Let us never forget that Steam Greenlight was Valve’s solution to nobody at the company wanting to answer emails from developers.

      • brucethemoose says:

        Yeah. Valve loves that sky high earnings/employee ratio, hence they’re so hell bent on using as little manpower as possible.

        It’s really ridiculous. They run a storefront, but can’t even be bothered to judge what they sell themselves. Even Amazon is better about it.

      • Baines says:

        Greenlight was also Valve’s solution to complaints that Valve had no consistent policies. And that Valve couldn’t even be bothered to tell devs *why* their games failed the submission review (if they ever got reviewed at all.)

      • Premium User Badge

        Ninja Dodo says:

        I think it’s less them not “wanting” to answer emails and more the sheer volume of requests to get on Steam being literally impossible to manage. It’s worth noting the graphic they used to illustrate this (pre-Greenlight) process in one of their Steam Dev Days lectures was everything being *on fire*. They also said they did not feel their judgement of what should and shouldn’t go on Steam was very good anyway (giving mega-hit Stardew Valley as an example of something they would not have expected to sell).

        • shde2e says:

          They take a 30% cut of the majority of all game sales in this entire multi-billion euro industry. If they can’t afford to manually judge the games they sell, they’re doing something very wrong.

          I think it’s more of a cultural thing. Valve tends to have a pretty flat company structure where people are allowed to move around a lot to their preferred positions, and nobody wants to do the customer service work.

          • MajorLag says:

            I’m not saying Valve isn’t making money hand over fist, but all that distribution and storefront infrastructure isn’t cheap. And I think people calling for Valve to hand-review every single Steam submission vastly underestimate the costs of doing that.

          • mike69 says:

            @MajorLag

            I don’t think anybody is under the illusion it would be cheap. The point is that by ‘making money hand over fist’ it’s absurdly feasible for them to do it.

        • Premium User Badge

          Ninja Dodo says:

          “What we realized is: we’re terrible at predicting what will resonate with customers.”

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Lets also not forget the time Gabe Newell fought his own company to get a violent game made by neonazis published on Steam.

      That really showed what the culture is actually like at Valve.

  10. bawenang says:

    So, bye-bye The Witcher series, Mass Effect series, and Dragon Age Origins then?

    • phrozen64 says:

      But none of those feature close up vaginas and dicks. Yes, there is softcore pornography just like there is soft core porn in HBO, but Visual Novels tend to have explicit sex scenes which end up being censored by Steam anyway. You can’t even post patches for adult visual novels anymore, so I don’t think they want any hardcore cartoon porn on their platform until it will be challenged.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        Kindred Spirits on the Roof has none of that.

        It’s sex scenes (which are short and only at the end of the game) are more tame than the newer Mass Effects and Dragon Ages.

    • Baines says:

      Not likely. Valve is probably only targeting smaller, less valuable (and thus less profitable) titles. The ones that many people wouldn’t even object to seeing go. They aren’t going to touch the big names.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        They’re even leaving some obvious smaller targets like Christine Love alone.

        This feels like they’re picking the targets least likely to fight back just to appease some right wing censorship group.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Those games feature adult treatment of adult sex. One difference with many of these visual novels based on a dating theme is the infantilization of female characters. The art style comes really close to representing females as “underage,” if not downright childlike. The header image above in this RPS article comes close to that line.

      It’s creepy… at least feels that way to me. Sexualized children are more of a problem than the adult sex in games like the Witcher. So I wonder if it’s this aspect of the visual novels that Valve is really addressing, and not just pornographic content in general?

      • DeepSleeper says:

        Oh cool great I was worried we wouldn’t have an “anime is pedophilia” dude but here’s one right in time.

        • Zenicetus says:

          I didn’t say all anime is pedophilia. I said some of this stuff strikes me as creepy. Feel free to disagree.

          Also, for what it’s worth, I don’t think Valve should be banning it. I’m anti-censorship, and in favor of the marketplace deciding what sells. Even if I find it creepy on a personal level. I’m just speculating on what Valve’s motives might be.

        • brucethemoose says:

          That is indeed a terrible generalization to make.

          On the other hand, it’s definitely a problem with some (not all) anime stuff, which is what Z was getting at. Ignoring that is even worse.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Oh, come on. You know they were talking about moe, and it’s not like chibi is uncommon or not commonly sexualized in manga/anime and gaming.

          Why be obtuse about this?

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            I find people who get incredibly defensive when some of the pedo-happy corners of anime get exposed to be really suspect. It’s a very, very bad look. EVERYONE should agree that that shit is awful, anime fan or not.

        • mike69 says:

          And here’s the ‘yes it’s mostly children in school uniforms sucking lollipops but it’s totes not about kids’ guy.

      • Fritzkier says:

        That is kinda racist… Since visual novels (anime style at least) are based from Asian features. And you know Asians looks younger than Westerner with similar ages…

        But I think I understand why you think it’s creepy for some people. (Filtration tags where are you?)

        • Menthalion says:

          Of course, Asian features like giant blue eyes. How could I forget..

          • Fritzkier says:

            Oh, now you’re talking about big blue eyes? So basically, *The art style comes really close to representing females as “underage”* is invalid since they aren’t human, right?

            For God’s sake, I’m talking about height and maturity here…

        • OmNomNom says:

          Except anime characters always look far more like Caucasian children

          • Fritzkier says:

            Caucasian children, yeah. I’m also a caucasian children then. Even thought I’m over 18.

      • brucethemoose says:

        It’s possible.

        Thats the first thing the alleged watchdogs behind this would go after. Valve being Valve, they definitely don’t want any legal complications or nasty PR, so blanket banning could be their knee-jerk reaction.

        Hmmmmm, makes sense to me. I don’t think Valve has any prejudice against anime or sex games, and I don’t think they care about some family values group. But they wouldn’t want to go anywhere near the underage porn minefield.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        The headline image comes from a game about late high school romance that does not contain anything close to pornography.

        It basically has early Bioware level romance scenes where the worst it gets is showing a character topless.

        I think it’s more important to acknowledge that Valve only a year or two ago vetted the game to be sold completely uncensored.

        The way Valve just arbitrarily changes how they enforce guidelines without any communication is a huge problem with the company that needs to be fixed.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          For example, Kindred Spirits (no matter what you think of it) being targeted while the entire porny catalog of Sakura Games remains untouched is a complete joke.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            Apparently Sakura was targetted.

            They only mention it on their patreon.

      • OmNomNom says:

        Well people have to go specifically to porn sites to view pornography, why not make them go to a different game ‘shop’ to view dirty games. It would sure help to stop the kids accessing it.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          I do agree that steam needs to filter this stuff better.

          You can’t openly sell porn in stores minors can access so steam having some sort of adult only section would make sense.

        • malkav11 says:

          Dude. If a kid wants to view porn on the internet, moving it off Steam won’t do a single thing to stop them. Actually, they’re probably not getting it from Steam because that would cost money.

          I’m all for an easy way to put it out of casual view so that they don’t get exposed to it -un-intentionally, though.

  11. geldonyetich says:

    I have no problem with anime at all, but sexual-themed visual novels aren’t all that hard to make and tend to get a lot of traffic and attention because a lot of people on the Internet let their loins call the shots. They breed like rabbits because many people wish they could.

    Lord knows I lose that fight every once in awhile, leading to unwelcome distractions. I can’t just go into the preferences and disable the affected tags because I’m afraid I might actually miss some good games that just happen to have those tags on them. So I leave them enabled and from time to time end up playing a meta-game, “That Steam game says it’s got sexual content, but lets investigate sexual is is really is.” Alas, my animal nature is too vulnerable to easy stimuli, and I find myself wanting to look at the Steam list less and less.

    This isn’t really about freedom of speech and expression. It’s not big bad Valve censoring the poor (actually doing fairly well for themselves thanks to the excess of horny idiots on the web) porn producing development houses. It’s starting to hijack Steam and turn this portal of gaming into a portal of porn. Frankly I think Valve is getting as sick of it as all the Steam users who aren’t gung ho about getting their libido poked every time they open up the steam list.

    • malkav11 says:

      Again, the solution to this problem is (vastly) better filtering, sorting and customization tools for the store, not arbitrary delisting. There’s a very mild difference between ‘adult’ content in games and other types of game that might subjectively be overwhelming the sort of thing a given user is actually looking for on Steam, I guess, but really pretty minor all things considered. And there are certainly plenty of other massively overrepresented genres flooding Steam these days. I for one would happily consign all VR-only titles to the flames of perdition (not least because I don’t own a VR device and so they’re entirely irrelevant to me), as well as almost every survival sim, competitive multiplayer game, F2P MMO, and sports title. But I can’t, and that’s not the fault of those games for existing or the people who enjoy them for liking them, that’s the fault of Valve for not providing the necessary tools.

      • geldonyetich says:

        I’m all for a filter that can tell the difference between a real game that contains some nudity and sexual content versus a straight up porn game or a shallow gameplay experience focused wholly on libido stimulation.

        Only trouble is I don’t think a filter that can split that hair can exist on a technical level that a computer can operate upon.

        Especially if the filter is driven by a community that gives Sakura Spirit 5,382 overly positive reviews while Cogmind gets 267, despite the fact that the former is just a barely interactive visual novel and the latter is proper brilliant. The same community that cannot resist sticking the “Psychological Horror” tag on things for the laughs.

        If not the community, then, who? People hate on professional reviewers these days because they figure they’re mostly on the take. But it seems the gaming public in general doesn’t really have the maturity to make a tagging system work, and Valve doesn’t want to be the authority on what game is categorized as what because it makes them look like Big Brother.

        There’s no interim solution here. There will be no better filter.

        • malkav11 says:

          Filtering tools would quite easily make those sorts of distinctions with correctly indexed data. The current Steam tag system is another aspect of the many issues with how the Steam store is currently organized, yes. Solving that would not be trivial by any means, but it’s possible. You’d need higher granularity of tagging, bundling of tags, people doing the tagging that actually take it seriously and do it in an organized fashion, etc etc etc.

          I continue to believe this would be much more helpful to everyone across the board than arbitrarily delisting random pseudo-pornographic VNs, although the latter is certainly easy.

          Also, frankly, on some things, regardless of what Valve wants, they have signed up for the job of doing them by running an online storefront and no amount of “I don’t want to” will absolve them of it.

        • malkav11 says:

          Oh, and frankly, you don’t need to trawl around in a mess of barely-veiled porn games in the hopes that you might strike something intelligent that happens to contain sexual content. You can safely filter all that out. If something good does surface, and it’s not common at all, there are places that will tell you about it. I guarantee. And then you can just direct search it.

          I think the problem with Steam discoverability is much more acute when there are regularly interesting games -and- uninteresting games in the same buckets (for example, I can’t filter “VR” because it’s applied equally to VR-mandatory games and games that merely support VR, and while I have no use at all for the former, there are plenty of perfectly cromulent VR-supporting titles that I can never ever run in VR mode), or where the category is easily identified as always uninteresting but Steam completely ignores your decision to filter them “because this is popular!” or where the tag being used to recommend something describes HALF OF THE ENTIRE STEAM CATALOG, etc.

          What I’m saying is that there are some really basic improvements that could be made here that would already hugely increase QOL.

    • Fritzkier says:

      Yeah, Kindred Spirits on the Roof is straight porn even if there’s no porn at all. And it should be banned because it’s anime. Oh and GTA V aren’t promoting bad attitude too, so it’s ok. What? There is porn there? Nah, it’s ok.

      I’m not a visual novels gamer, and I only have VA-11 HALL-A visual novels in my steam library. But what Valve did is a bad move. Visual novels is their first step. But what if your favorite genre gets the same treatment?

      • geldonyetich says:

        Yeah, Kindred Spirits on the Roof is straight porn even if there’s no porn at all. And it should be banned because it’s anime.

        Oddly enough, when I google, “Kindred Spirits on the Roof patch” I get a whole bunch of news hits, “Kindred Spirits on the Roof coming to Steam uncensored.” So either they changed they mind before it was released to Valve and censored it after all, but Kindred Spirits on the Roof is actually quite pornographic and the RPS coverage is wrong.

        But either way it doesn’t really matter because what happens when somebody who wants sexual content in their visual novel buys it on Steam? They just run out and grab an R18 patch. Sometimes they’re free and sometimes they’re not. But, either way, you’re now playing a completely enabled porn game on Steam, whether or not Valve sold it to you.

        TL;DR: Your quoted bit up there is wrong.

        And it should be banned because it’s anime. Oh and GTA V aren’t promoting bad attitude too, so it’s ok. What? There is porn there? Nah, it’s ok.

        It’s ironic that you’re upset that Valve is overreacting to pornographic content afraid they’ll lump it all together to ban it, and then you take my message and overreact to it and lump it all together to interpret it in a specific way. You’re upset Valve might not bother to differentiate on the subtleties of content, but can’t seem to be arsed to bother yourself.

        But what Valve did is a bad move. Visual novels is their first step. But what if your favorite genre gets the same treatment?

        If it’s my favorite genre and not on Steam? I think I’d just buy it somewhere else.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Kindred Spirits is a romance story with sex treated very similarly to Bioware games in regards to depiction.

          90% of the story is the main character playing matchmaker for her classmates with only a short romantic scene for the MC having nudity at the end (where its just topless art.)

          If the religious right group actually is responsible for it being pulled it’s more likely for the acknowledgement of teen sex at all.

          Heck the devs are women and it’s very obviously geared towards that market in Japan. It doesn’t treat its lesbian characters as sex objects at all.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Also they leave Sakura Games completely alone when those games are even more pornographic than Kindred could ever hope to be.

          I completely get why Kindred Spirits is objectionable to some and might be removed but Valve is giving a free pass to far worse things.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            As I added above I was mistaken about Sakura.

            This entire thing seems to be targeting bare breasts.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      No! I’m sorry, I hate these stupid games too, but fuck that. They aren’t censoring the store because “Gaben is just as sick of them as all the REAL gamers are”, it’s because these games are small, and elitist dickheads who don’t share their tastes are loud enough that it’s having a negative effect on Valve’s reputation. And surprise sutprise, instead of doing some actual work towards curating the store, or improving the filter system, or implementing verifiable age gates, or any of the other things that smarter people than me could think of, they have decided to just exclude some of their audience. It’s Valve’s right as a private business, but it’s also complete bullshit and makes me angry that there’s so little competition to take my wallet to. Honestly fuck you Valve, 6ou have so much money and do SO LITTLE WORK. Hire some employees, and improve your shit. You can’t ride this wave forever.

    • Chaoslord AJ says:

      Lol there is no porn there at all. Mostly anime/CG characters in clothing. You’ll see more “erotica” in a hollywood movie production and those are puritans. And the rest of the internet…
      If Steam wants to please prudish societies then please use the geotagging but leave others out of it.
      They could implement age verification like in liquor stores.
      They could give you a button to check in the account settings which says don’t show me sexual cartoon content etc.
      Lack of self-discipline isn’t an argument either. Shall we forbid peanut butter too?

    • geldonyetich says:

      On second thought, I don’t think Valve really gives a damn about how annoying it is to see porn in their trending release lists, even if it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel.

      Instead, what’s going on here is Valve policies have always officially been not to allow games with explicitly pornographic content, but only in what’s downloaded on Steam. If somebody downloads an R18 patch, they have no more control over that than any porn mod, so that’s outside the realm of their control.

      Kindred Spirits On The Roof was just borderline enough in its base, unpatched content that Valve was slow to act on it, but they ultimately decided it was over the line. That’s all it is.

  12. Crafter says:

    I was pretty much the only one to applaud when valve stopped caring and just opened the valves so pretty much anyone could publish on steam : for better or worse, Steam is the major gateway to pc gaming.

    Before that, indies were at the mercy of random steam curators in order to be able to publish.

    Now the situation has greatly improved on that front (even though of course over abundance creates another set of issues) … except for adult content apparently.

  13. brucethemoose says:

    So the more I think about this, the more I’m convinced Valve is just frantically jumping out of the underage porn minefield.

    Think about it. Valve is a classic west coast tech company, they don’t have anything against anime or sex games, and frankly they make alot of money off them. They couldn’t care less about “family values” watchdog groups. But then this watchdog group comes along with mass reports. What would they go after first? The low hanging fruit: those REALLY iffy games featuring childlike characters you see in the store every once in awhile.

    Thats EXACTLY the kind of trouble Valve doesn’t want to deal with. They refuse/don’t have the manpower to sift through everything, and they don’t want to be obvious about it, so they go scorched Earth.

    • aepervius says:

      I fully agree with you. I had a look at the spoiler reddit on “kindred spirit in the roof” and it depicts young teenager having clearly sex. Whether that qualify as erotic or pornographic is beside the point, the point here is that content depicting lesbian aged 13-15 , maybe, visually masturbating each other even if you dont see genitals. Such content IS toxic waste content for a business like valve. I am surprised the author said valve approved it.

      Imo that is why i think AAA or game like the witcher are safe. At least they make sure their sexualized content are looking unmistakenly adult. A quick view on kindred spirit and other vn stuff showed visual tending to show cartoon figure trending toward the “under legal age”.

      • Mokinokaro says:

        They’re 16-18 as that’s high school age in Japan.

        Borderline adult but perfectly understandable if that still creeps people out.

        It’s also one of those VNs where you could excise the sex stuff as it’s actually a very minor part and still have a good romance story.

        • aepervius says:

          No, they are *pretend* high school. Just look at plain biology, look at 16 year old’s head size/hip/shoulder ratio/skeleton structure, and 14 year old or lower. The picture which I won’t link to do not show naked 16+, but immature lower than 14 body – there are some exception when people have growth defect (either growing far too much and too quick, or having stunted growth) and it is a bell curve, but all character in that named VN look the same. It may be the visual art style, but that style make them look *much* younger than the age they are pretended to be. And frankly as somebody said in another forum : 10 year old body pretend to be vampire of 1000 year old ? Just stop using that excuse of using the VN announced age.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            Oh I agree completely the art style makes them look younger.

            That is unfortunately a common thing with anime.

          • Rince says:

            Sometimes you just can’t win.

            Draws characters with modest proportions.
            – THEY’RE MINORS!! NOBODY THINKS ABOUT THE CHILDRENS!?

            Draws the characters like supermodels.
            – THEY’RE OBJETIVIZING WOMEN!! PIGS!!

            Draws the characters like stick figures.
            – THEY’RE SEXUALIZING THE STICKS!!

      • elevown says:

        Stop spouting bollocks you dont know anything about. Kindred spirits they are all high school so 16-18 -(legal age) they are all romantic stories – i.e a few tame, not very explicit sex scenes after a LONG story of falling in love – with someone else of the same age. There is not a single thing about it that is ‘toxic’ The only toxic thing is YOU – and your clearly some homophobic christian nut job who wouldnt care if it was het or not anime.

  14. airmikee99 says:

    Thank you, Valve, for protecting us from adult content while your community is infested with shitass Nazi’s. You’ll actively police tits and ass, but calls for genocide are left up to the community to bring to your attention (which doesn’t tend to result in anything.)

    Been a while since I’ve spent money on Steam and I doubt I’ll ever give Valve another penny.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      I would appreciate both a reduction in steam community toxicity/bigotry and having a storefront that isn’t 75% hilariously sexualized “visual novels.”

      And I see no reason to avoid fixing one problem until both are fixed at the same time.

      That being said, I think they should just make hyperviolent/hypersexual/18+ content opt-in instead of opt-out, and that would solve a lot of problems without banning content outright.

      • Rince says:

        What the hell are you playing?
        I just checked the storepage and I didn’t find anything like that except for the Neptunia games which are right now on sale.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      Gaben fought against other Valve staff for the right to have a neonazi game filled with the murder of non-whites to be released years ago.

      I would not be surprised if he’s shifted the company into a Nazi friendly direction by being too “free speech” to call a spade a spade.

      • woodsey says:

        Name of the game? Written evidence? A video?

        It is generally considered bad form to imply that people are Nazi sympathisers without some evidence.

        • Mokinokaro says:

          Hatred’s devs are neonazis, man. Several openly support Polish white supremacist parties. Hatred did eventually get removed but Gaben fought tooth and nail to keep it.

          And their second game which is on steam includes white supremacist references in it and its achievements. They’re not even hiding it.

          I’m not saying he’s a neonazi but he seemed at the time to be one of the “free speech means we have to give Nazis a platform” types.

          • Stompywitch says:

            Nope, Hatred is still there, and looks to have been… review-anti-bombed? It’s sitting at “mostly positive”…

          • Mokinokaro says:

            It was temporarily removed then.

            And yeah the anti-SJW crowd jumped right on it so I’m not surprised.

          • shde2e says:

            The game has nothing to do with Nazi’s though. And if you want to police games based on the political beliefs of their developer, you’re going down a very treacherous path that needs to be treaded very carefully.

            Having said that, the fact that steam still has Neonazi groups openly promoting their beliefs in the Community tabs is very dissapointing.

          • woodsey says:

            I know there was a controversy, but the trailer for Hatred shows the player-character killing a bunch of white people, so I don’t know how much you could say the game itself is explicitly racist (unless there’s more to it, or they changed that for the release version).

            And that does present a problem when you’ve committed to making an open-platform and are being asked to ban something that isn’t explicitly racist.

            And I do appreciate the argument about the developers, because I certainly wouldn’t want to work with them, but I still don’t think it’s fair to present it as “Gabe Newell stood up for neo-Nazis.”

            EDIT: As said above, I should think the bigger issue is the lack of policing on the community groups. Because then it literally is a platform for neo-Nazis.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            No, they saved the open racism for their second game (IS Defence) which is all about shooting brown people and has nazi references in the game and its achievements.

            They even put it on sale on Hitler’s birthday at least once.

          • woodsey says:

            OK, but you said Newell fought “tooth and nail” to keep Hatred on Steam…

          • Mokinokaro says:

            He did.

            Valve was going to ban it until Gaben decided to override the decision of the staff who normally decide what gets greenlit.

          • woodsey says:

            Right, but again, Hatred doesn’t seem overtly or explicitly racist, so there is a half-decent argument to be made for doing so. (And yes, a good argument the other way when it comes to the developers.)

            And again again, please, a source. I’d like more information on the subject than you implying Gabe Newell personally opposed everyone else at Valve.

          • dethtoll says:

            Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum and racism isn’t just saying the N word and wearing a swastika. There’s an entire philosophy behind it and Hatred was created within that philosophy. Even if you point at it and say “b-but white people are killed too!” it doesn’t change the fact that it was developed in a nihilist, white supremacist mindset.

  15. satan says:

    link to reddit.com

    ‘Looks like the mystery might have been solved. It looks like the NCOSE previously known as “Morality In Media” , a right wing puritan lobbying group is behind the banning of Steam games. Don’t let their name fool you, they are pretty much an authoritarian puritan morality organization.’

    ‘Here they are admitting to the campaign.

    link to endsexualexploitation.org

  16. Sandepande says:

    Almost like someone higher up received an angry phone call from a parent.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      A right wing Christian group is claiming responsibility but there’s no factual proof they did it and I think they’d be adding more to their target list.

      Lady-killer in a Bind, which is pretty explicitly porn/fetish material for instance isn’t being touched.

  17. Kowie says:

    link to youtube.com

    (rolls eyes) Valve need to get with the times, most gamers are 18+ these days, of course 99% of the violent games they sell get a free pass.

    Guessing this has something to do with Christian politicians pressuring Valve.

  18. Mokinokaro says:

    It also should be noted that (almost?) all of the games targetted have queer representation.

    I don’t think it’s intentional as there are a lot more visible queer games but it’s one hell of a coincidence.

    • Cederic says:

      Surely that’s just coincidence, on the grounds that any game or visual novel incorporating relationships these days will very likely include a range of options to suit multiple sexualities.

      Even if it doesn’t boost sales much it does at least reduce the chances of hostility from people that demand the inclusion of such options.

  19. KDR_11k says:

    Oh awesome, they’re policing a subjective rule and going after actual games. How about first getting a rule against super low quality games that only exist for trading cards or achievement spam? The “upcoming” tab or the unfiltered “new releases” tab are completely swamped with stuff you can identify as garbage within seconds, making it nearly impossible to see any quality games that fall below the threshold needed for the filtered new releases.

    If you’re going to enforce subjective rules, please do that one first.

  20. MajorLag says:

    Man, people really seem to expect a lot out of Valve. If they let anyone publish anything then they’re evil because the store is full of low quality crapware and stuff made by accused sexists, racists, and homophobes. If they try to put some restrictions on what goes in the store, they’re evil monopolists leveraging their position to censor art.

    If they spent the insane amount of money it’d take to have a human being review every submission, people would be pissed because human beings have opinions. If they instituted strict content rules people would be pissed because they don’t take context into account.

    There really is no way for Valve to satisfy you lot. Itch will sell anything as far as I can tell, and GOG will happily refuse to sell games for what appear to be completely arbitrary reasons, but they seem to get a pass for it. I guess because Steam is king of this particular mountain you expect perfection? I don’t get it.

    Anyways, ranting aside, I think it’d be a bad idea for Valve to pay any attention to moral crusaders. We went through that crap in the 90s and aughties and nothing good came out of it.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      It’s not the fact that Valve is choosing what goes on the store, it’s that their guidelines are not published anywhere and seem to be arbitrarily enforced.

      • Dominic Tarason says:

        Yeah, I was pretty sure I was clear in the article above: I have no issue with a store having and enforcing rules.

        It’s when they won’t tell anyone what those those rules are, and then what little people CAN figure out is clearly being randomly and arbitrarily enforced that everyone loses.

        What do I want from Valve?
        A: Clear rules.
        B: Consistent enforcement of them.

        That’s it. And I don’t think that’s a lot to ask of the single largest PC gaming storefront on the planet.

        • MajorLag says:

          You say that today, but what happens when they make strict rules and a very offensive game, or whatever, gets through on a technicality while some brilliant piece of work that technically violates the policy is shut out? That sort of thing happens all the time wherever strict letter-of-the-law enforcement is enacted (including in actual laws).

          • Dominic Tarason says:

            Those goalposts make the nicest whooshing sound as they fly past, huh?

            No, if something was absolutely not allowed under Valve’s policies, I’d not be upset, as there are sites that will carry it. Most notably Itch.io, which I am quite happy promoting at every opportunity due to being a truly unrestricted platform.

            Also, the more I think about your argument here, the less sense it makes. The problem here is that Valve confirmed – at length – that games in question here were entirely within their rules, and then decide later that they’re not, without changing the rules. That is what I’m complaining about. Don’t decide what my argument is.

    • malkav11 says:

      GOG’s arbitrary refusal to sell Opus Magnum was covered far and wide across the internet. I imagine it probably happens to lower profile stuff too, but that’s obviously less newsworthy. But then, GOG isn’t anywhere near large enough for getting rejected by them to constitute a major barrier to selling your game. It simply matters far less when literally anyone other than Steam does shitty things because they occupy a relative fraction of the market. If you’re going to dominate a market, you have to deal with higher expectations because you meaningfully impact that market whenever you do anything. Sucks, but that’s the price of success.

      And no, they’re never going to satisfy everyone, but honestly, being pretty hands off seems like the right call. If we could tweak at least the user interface for Steam (including better filtering tools, better tagging, etc) and some basic procedural aspects of how it handles things (e.g. when it patches), people could have a much better individual experience with Steam without needing Valve to make big and potentially problematic interventions for the most part.

      But yes. Clear and consistent rules and enforcement would be a start.

  21. Xiuhnan says:

    We live in a society where you’re judged based on what you play. Not just by Valve, but by the looks of it everyone on this fucking website. What’s it to ya’? Do you like dictating what other people can do with their life?
    If it’s legal and perfectly fine to do, but you don’t like it, is that a reason to not do it? You must live a really sad life to go around judging people based on what they do with their free time.
    In fact, many people on Reddit that hate the idea of anime have united with us in saying that what Valve is doing is wrong, so it can be done. If you think that this is fine to do because it’s something you don’t personally enjoy, I’m sorry to say but you probably work a 9-5 job with little to no excitement in your life. Your work probably being like Akaky’s in The Overcoat.
    The fact that you create hate speech and brand it as “opinion” is something that makes me absolutely livid. Your saying “it’s for perverts”, “it’s for paedophiles” and “it’s about time they did something” is not an opinion, it’s hate speech.
    Why must it be that people who enjoy these things are targeted by, again, not only Valve but the closed-minded hive-mind of zombies that roam this world as well?
    In short, you should be ashamed of supporting censorship. Whether you like it or not you should try and support the side that’s being silenced and censored. Unless, of course, you’d like to be next? How would you like it if Valve decided to censor your favourite media? I bet you’d be pretty pissed, and you know what? Even if I didn’t like it, I would support you, because censorship is wrong. You don’t need anything but human decency to see this, but apparently, the concept of being a decent person is lost on you.
    Anyway if you’ve made it this far, congrats, maybe you’ve seen the error of your ways or if not, feel free to bitch about it in a reply.

    With love,
    Nobody.

  22. weloveme says:

    Thats fine. Let Valve hurt their own profit because they will turn cheek when they realise its dipped their margins.

    When creating an account on Steam it does ask for your DoB so anything under 18 games should be cut from the store on the said account or should be bought by a parent/carer consent. Thats the only way I can see it.

    But for christ sake. Its 2018 and censorship is on the rise.

    If visual novels are removed then I urge people to buy elsewhere or even torrent it and show Valve visual proof that we will continue to do this till they sort their attitude out.

  23. Greg says:

    I have no problem with this on the condition that Valve offers all customers of these games FULL REFUNDS out of their OWN pocket for changing the rules long after these titles were approved. There’s no morally ground here. If they’re growing an ethical backbone I’d suggest they focus on cleaning up their own house. Let’s start with the authorized gambling on CS:GO skins that kids are participating in.

    • Yglorba says:

      When Valve removes a game from Steam, anyone who currently owns it still retains it; it just isn’t sold to new people anymore.

      (There are occasional exceptions, but only in cases where Valve is absolutely forced to stop offering the game for download for legal reasons.)

      That said, the real problem here is Valve being unclear about their rules and policies, which makes things extremely difficult for developers (who need to plan in advance and invest lots of time and money when making a game – they need to know beforehand whether they can sell it on Steam or not, and what they’ll have to do to ensure that.)

  24. haldolium says:

    I’m totally fine with this. These pieces of code trash are just not worth being anywhere.

  25. mac4 says:

    What bothers me about the story so far is so assuming Steam suddenly gets bombed with a particular brand of games being flagged, rather than noticing there’s something peculiar going on, they proceed by sending cease-and-desist letters to the makers? Hmmm.

    **************

    On a sidenote btw, this game has been featured prominently on their main page for the past weeks, so much so that they do seem to be actively supporting it (hey, it’s a good 45 bucks, innit): link to store.steampowered.com . By the looks of it, it’s about peeking up a VR realistic anime school girl’s skirt and the like. (“In VR Kanojo, you can hang out with the lovely girl-next-door, Sakura Yuuhi. You’ll practically feel her breath on your cheek and the warmth of her fingers on your arm as you laugh and talk the day away. Better yet, VR controllers simulate your hands in-game, letting you interact with her more directly. Just imagine all the possibilities!”)

    I’m not even sure where I’m going with this. Would I like to see stuff like this get censored, or banned? No, I guess not. Even though it gets me mighty queasy. Then again I don’t need it in my face all the time, either.

    Maybe that adult section, plus a working tagging system, as suggested many times above would be a good idea.

  26. Paranoid says:

    I feel like a better headline would be “Valve finally starts cleaning Steam up”.

    Steam has become a platform I would literally be embarrassed to open in front of company, particularly if it wasn’t loaded with my ignore filters.

    If you can’t see why Valve wouldn’t want this kind of content but would find something like Genital Jousting funny then I don’t know what to say.

    Just because the author of this piece has clearly become extremely desensitised to this ‘borderline content’ isn’t a good reason to accept it into mainstream gaming.

  27. Mokinokaro says:

    So now MangaGamer and a few of the devs are reporting that Valve has cancelled the two week removal and are going to re-evaluate the content of these games.

  28. Ham Solo says:

    With all the horrible and barely functioning “games” Steam allows, including stolen and/or flipped assets and asshole developers this is what causes them to do something?
    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  29. Kittim says:

    LOL!
    Valve getting upset about games released on Steam, a platform that they want to “SELF CURATE”. Because they are too lazy to tend their cash cow and don’t give a crap about the quality of the broken, never to be mended cash grabs in early access.

    Mr Blobby has a wonky moral compass…

    Personally, I don’t much care for sexuality in computer games, it always seems a like it’s handled worse than a Mills & Boon novel.

    But, that doesn’t mean it should not exist.

    Graphic violence is not only fine, it’s celebrated. Depictions of people exploding into red mist, torture and worse are absolutely OK.

    But tits? Ass? A vagina!? And, GOD FORBID! A cock!
    How about an erect cock?
    Can you imagine trying to get an A, let alone a AAA game released with even a modestly sized hard on?

    But, you know, killing people, individually, in very graphic ways. Or even on mass, that’s fine.

    What’s the more natural act?
    Procreation or annihilation?

  30. Mandrake42 says:

    Not every VN is about sex. Seems to be a prevalent misconception. Admittedly there are indeed a wealth of trashy ones but getting rid of them all based on those ones is just silly. I thoroughly enjoyed Steins Gate, Danganronpa and the Nonary Games, none of which are sex based. I do note that a recurring theme in the comments seems to be “I don’t like visual novels or anime, therefor no one should be able to buy a thing I don’t like”

    • Mandrake42 says:

      And its not like VN’s are the only games with sex. Look at the Witcher 3. I love that game but Geralt shags anything that moves and if it isn’t moving he’ll push it then shag it.

  31. KhanSolo says:

    Fuck visual novels on steam, and anyone who buys them. Go find some smut somewhere else.

    • Daemoroth says:

      Can we also get rid of all the pointless, sickening and graphic murder-simulators? Seriously, fuck all the would-be killers reveling in their fantasies about killing innocent people, fuck them all!!

      Go find your murder-porn smut somewhere else!

      PS – Sarcasm pointing out the extreme stupidity of your attitude.

  32. Neutrino says:

    If they all up stakes and move to GOG or itch.io en masse I’d call that a win-win.

  33. DeepFried says:

    Wow, the comments on this article are a clusterfuck of idiotic comments and people vainly arguing with them.

    The bottom line is that Valve is opaque, and they make strange decisions for unknown reasons. It could be lawyers, it could be PR, it could just be some middle manger who’s out of touch. We’ll probably never know, all I do know is that I’ve learned not to expect sensible policy from Valve, at least not on the first blush.

  34. The Evil Pony says:

    After taking half of an hour reading the comments on this post i made an account because all this sick hate to any genre that it’s not what someone likes it’s all wrong. Man i don’t get it why people act like “oh sh*t this is weeb stuff on my steam store, me gonna hate me gonna blame” ir you guys don’t like something just keep scrolling down until you find what you’re truly looking for. Personally i don’t like violence game like CoD and demonic stuff like dark souls but not for that reason i will do something that can affect someone else likes. People need to learn to tolerate each others what are we teaching to the new generations :/

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