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Epic Games Store launches self-publishing tools for devs, but will still reject porn, illegal and hateful content

There are five "notable requirements" to get games onto the EGS

After more than 18 months of closed beta testing, Epic's self-publishing tools for developers are now available for all to use on the Epic Games Store. Previously, Epic had their own internal curation process for publishing to the store, but this changes from today, with developers now having much more control over getting their games onto the EGS. Well, almost.

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There are still a couple of "notable requirements" devs will need to follow in order to qualify for self-publishing, which Epic say are "designed to provide a best-in-class player experience that doesn't lock players into a single store".

These include making sure your game has cheevos and PC crossplay for multiplayer games, for example, as well as ensuring age ratings are correct for regional distribution. Your game must also download, install, launch and function properly, natch. In other words, the game people end up playing is consistent with the assets and descriptions on the game's store page, with Epic reserving the right to reject games that don't meet these levels of quality and functionality.

The final requirement is perhaps the most interesting, though, and most importantly, the one that stands in stark contrast to how Valve currently deal with self-publishing over on Steam. It's to do with "prohibited content", with Epic stating the following:

Certain types of content are prohibited on the store, including but not limited to: hateful or discriminatory content; pornography; illegal content; content that infringes on intellectual property you do not own or have rights to use; scams, frauds, or deceptive practices, such as fake games or malware.

There are more detailed guidelines on their definitions of prohibited content over on their developer resource site, where Epic also state that if complaints are received about prohibited content on live store pages, they'll re-review those pages and potentially remove them altogether. Epic's own self-service publishing flow infographic also includes two review phases before devs can actually launch their game too - first the store page is submitted for a "content review", and then the game itself receives a "requirement review". Only once both stages have been passed can devs launch their game, and take advantage of Epic's 88% / 12% revenue split.

Valve have their own guidelines on what devs should and shouldn't publish on Steam, too, which does, in fairness, include a lot of the same kinds of content. But as last month's report from the folks at People Make Games recently brought to light, there's still an awful lot of dross that contradicts these guidelines and makes it through to launch. In general, it seems that Steam's approach is still to "allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling", according to this blog post from 2018, and there's a part of me that wishes Steam was more rigorous in what it allowed on its storefront.

Then again, I also wish Epic was a bit clearer on their own definition of pornography. While their guidelines state they don't allow any games with an "Adult Only" rating, for example, I just hope we don't end up with another YouTube situation where LGBTQ+ content gets caught in the crossfire.

The big caveat to all this, of course, is that Epic still allow games with NFTs / crypto / terrible blockchain nonsense in them (which Valve discourage in their SteamWorks guidelines, although some of these things still clearly still get through from time to time), so I guess the question becomes: would you rather have a storefront with porn but not crypto, or crypto but not porn?

Just thinking about it makes me sigh and put my head in my hands, but hey, I'm heartened that Epic are making some effort to take responsibility for what's on their storefront, even if that doesn't extend to NFT junk right now. Will it prevent the EGS from becoming another cesspit of endless content, though? We'll have to wait and see.

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