After a few weeks of controversy — which included a pulled game about school shootings and confusion over the place of sexually explicit games on the platform — Valve has decided to change its policies on what games are allowed on Steam. Its solution? Almost anything goes.
“We ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this,” the company explained in a blog post today.
“Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this.”
“If you’re a player, we shouldn’t 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. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.”
The company goes on to say that it currently employs curators to check the content of potential Steam games, but in the future, that level of curation won’t be in place. Instead, all games will be allowed on Steam, “except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling,” Valve explains. While it’s not clear what constitutes trolling in the post, Valve previously described the game Active Shooter as a “troll” when it removed it from Steam.
In place of human curators, the company says that it’s building new tools to allow users more control over the kinds of games they see on the store. There will also be some kind of new tools for developers as well, likely to combat issues like review bombing.
“If you don’t want to see anime games on your store, you’ll be able to make that choice.”
“We already have some tools, but they’re too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough,” Valve explains. “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.”
The company says that there won’t be any significant changes to the storefront until these tools are complete, though there’s no timeline for when that might be. “We’ll be working on this for the foreseeable future, both in terms of what products we’re allowing, what guidelines we communicate, and the tools we’re providing to developers and players,” Valve says.