Valve says it will allow ‘everything’ on Steam as long as it isn’t illegal or ‘trolling’

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

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.

“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.

“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.


I foresee a wave of porn games coming. It’ll be interesting to see if they get pressured to walk this back.

Also, shovelware as far as the eye can see.

I’m really worried about the shovelware. This is going to explode as soon as they open the flood gates.

Like it hadn’t already? Steam direct didn’t really have any gates as it was. They said there was a review, but judging by the games that got released, it was a rubber stamp at best or a complete lie at worst.

It’s going to be much worse.

Well, at least the Watch+Play stream will have fodder.

I’m not necessarily opposed to them offering porn for those who want it, but I’m shocked they decided to openly allow it. I’m assuming those type of games won’t come up in searches unless you specifically opt in?

I’m sure they’ll have the rating system in place to block those, if you really don’t want to see those titles. And also their search engine has some intelligence built-in…if you aren’t going searching for those types of games, then Steam shouldn’t be trying to offer them to you.

I think you’re right.

But I think they will put some safety measures in. I’m sure they’ll implement filter systems so you can’t view "those" types of games unless you take the safety restrictions off.

TIL: Valve was actually doing something about the ton of garbage available on their app store.

Right? They basically said they’re going to allow way more garbage now. I don’t use Steam as much though, and man am I glad I don’t.

What’s your point? Are you going to stop shopping at Amazon or your local supermarket just because there are plenty of shitty products they sell?

My point is it’s a freaking headache and is a terrible user experience. Jesus, didn’t think I had to spell out the obvious.

Why is it a headache? You wanna buy a game, you get on Steam and buy it. That’s like 2 minutes tops.

Right, if you know exactly what title you want. That means you search for it and skip using the store home page for discovery. Discovery will be a headache.

Steam discovery is terrible no matter what Valve says. Browse something like r/games (be it top posts of the week or new posts every day) once in a while, wishlist interesting things and you’re good.

I would argue game discovery on any online game platform is terrible. Steam wasn’t worse or better than anything else I have used. Ok, maybe, a little more worse because of the volume of inventory, but how do you make that better?

I’ve never used steam before because I have a MacBook Pro . I’ll be happy to be a new customer once it’s available and the new changes are implemented

Steam for Mac has been around for 8 years… Don’t care if you were being sarcastic, telling you anyway.

No clue if he was being serious, but as a Mac user, you really need to be careful that a game is supported on the Mac when looking. Unfortunately a lot of great games are Windows only. That shouldn’t be a huge surprise for most people, but I’ve read reviews and was ready to purchase until I realized it was Windows only. I’m embarrassed to say exactly how many times I’ve done that.

It says on the store page if it supports Mac…

Oh I know. That’s why I said I was embarrassed how many times I’ve forgotten to check compatibility before "shopping" a game.

Let the market decide!

As an adult confident in my ability to not buy games that I don’t want to buy, this is fine by me.

No, you have to be coddled like a baby these days. It is for your own safety.

It’s going to be interesting how good games are able to rise above the shovelware; but it’s certainly refreshing to see a company moving towards more free choice when youtube and reddit and the like have been taking the opposite tack and increasingly restricting content

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