Valve has contacted several developers asking them to censor their games on Steam or face delisting. Multiple game developers have taken to Twitter to voice their outrage. The company hasn't made any changes to its terms and conditions just yet and this comes as surprise to many particularly after they've been on Steam for so long with no issues.
"We have been informed that adult content in Tropical Liquor must be censored by the end of this month or the game will be removed from Steam. We are working on this issue," tweeted the account for game's developer.
"I've received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop violates the rules and guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content," claimed the creator of HuniePop.
Furthermore, these unannounced changes to Valve's content policy seem to have impacted entire genres with makers of visual novels up in arms, stating that the entire genre is at risk. Apparently the revised content policy is at odds with what was previously agreed to, resulting in some games taken down without prior notice. Case in point Mutiny!! from developer Lupiesoft.
"We've just received some troubling news today that @steam_games has decided to pull down our titled "Mutiny!!" within 2 weeks for 'reports of pornographic content'. Now those of you who know @Lupiesoft know that we don't put that on Steam, or advertise that content on Steam," the developer said in a tweet. According to Lupiesoft, Valve had no problems with the game's content, going far as to confirm so in person.
"It seems this new change violates what Valve agreed to before, and the entirety of the Visual Novel genre on Steam is feeling the effects of this nuclear option. Every developer big and small, no matter how much they followed Steam's guidelines to the letter is having games pulled," it said, following it up with alleging preferential treatment given to Western developed-titles.
"From Huniepop, to SonoHanabira, to Mutiny!!, the message is clear, if your game has sexy anime-inspired art in it, get it gone, while western games which are 100x more pornographic content escape unscathed. One rule for them, and no rules for us."
In addition to this, one of the biggest publishers of visual novels on Steam, MangaGamer confirmed that Valve had given it approval for its upcoming title, Kindred Spirits.
"We went to great pains to run the game’s content by Valve representatives––including sending along every potentially questionable graphical asset along with advanced builds of the title––to ensure that that feeling was mutual. The game would have never appeared on the platform if we had not confirmed with Valve representatives that they did not feel the content was pornographic and was appropriate for the platform," the company stated on its blog.
"Despite our best efforts to respect both the letter and spirit of Valve’s content guidelines as we were made to understand them, we are wholly in the dark with this latest apparent shift in policy as no clear guidelines or standards have been provided. We will seek to negotiate with Valve to keep Kindred Spiritsas-is on the Steam Store to the best of our ability, but failing that we still require guidelines to modify the title and future titles to fit these new, apparently stricter standards."
That being said, with Valve yet to make an official statement, it appears that an employee has said this has been done to avoid a situation similar to the GTA San Andreas Hot Coffee scandal wherein pornographic content is present in the game's files that can be unlocked via patch.
This isn't the first time Valve has found itself involved in controversy with its decisions. Previously, the nation of Malaysia had blocked Steam following the presence of a game called Fight of Gods. Hopefully Valve clears the air on these new censorship rules sooner rather than later.
Update, May 19: story updated to incorporate MangaGamer's comments as well as possible reasoning for the removal of specific games to avoid a scenario similar to GTA San Andreas' Hot Coffee scandal.
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