Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Industry | By Terrell Bush

Valve changes vetting process for what goes on Steam Store

Valve changes vetting process for what goes on Steam Store

Valve no longer has to make hard decisions in regards to which games go live on Steam. Those choices should be yours to make.

Valve employees will still screen games to make sure they work, but only illegal content will be banned - something Valve acknowledges is convoluted since laws vary across the country and internationally.

KitGuru Says: While I commend the new angle Valve is taking in order to give developers a voice, it is concerning how this might impact on the quality of titles and whether opening the floodgates allows for more titles that could exploit users. It will require developers to disclose controversial content within games so they can be categorized for players.

In a Wednesday blog post, Valve employee Erik Johnson laid out a vision for what kind of games will be allowed on Steam. What's more, now it states that it's going to allow everything on Steam with few restrictions. "It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don't think should exist", and Valve added the games on Steam will not reflect Valve's values as a result.

The post reads: "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". They may not have confirmed this part of the policy just yet, though the company did quelch the rumor that their payment processors were the driving force behind Valve's hesitance to allow full blown sex-driven games.

According to a blog post on the service, Steam said its version of "the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling".

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"Unless you don't have any opinions, that's guaranteed to happen". After Valve removed various "ero" games, then approved the sexualized, violence-against-women simulator Agony, users began asking what was up with Steam's content guidelines.

The issue is tricky enough that debates over what content can go on Steam are occurring not just in the wider world, but indeed within Valve itself.

"In addition, Valve is not a small company - we're not a homogeneous group". It also says gamers will be able to override its recommendation algorithms in order to ensure they don't see games they might deem offensive.

"Decision making in this space is particularly challenging, and one that we've really struggled with". Less than two weeks later, school-shooting game Active Shooter was taken down. Posting basic free speech somewhere online and dumping software into Steam's heavily sorted marketplace (from which Valve takes a 30-percent cut of every sale) are very different things. That means the recently axed game that allows players to pretend to be a school shooter, and other trollish games that primarily use asset flips still won't have a home on Steam.

This is not the same train of thought that leads one to believe games are the leading cause of shootings - far from it - but a culture that is happy to monetize tragedy and outrage desperately wants for counterbalances, but for now, it appears Valve is content with taking its share of the money developers earn from their product, irrespective of how questionable the content may be.

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