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Valve are easing up on what content is allowed on Steam

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In an interesting blog post written up today, Valve's Erik Johnson has said how Valve will be relaxing their rules for what will be acceptable on Steam.

You might have seen the discussion recently about how Valve sent word to a few developers, giving them notice that their games are going to be removed from Steam. Even we picked up on this, as it didn't really feel right.

There were people suggesting that payment processors were to blame, or outside groups like we had linked in our previous article's comments. Valve said this is not the case at all. It's also not an automated process, Johnson said they have "groups of people looking at the contents of every controversial title submitted to us".

Now, Valve will allow pretty much anything "except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling". The blog post read as a surprisingly personal insight into how Valve operate, something Valve has been starting to do a little more often lately (which is great to see).

This bit got me:

So what does this mean? It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don't think should exist. Unless you don't have any opinions, that's guaranteed to happen. But you're also going to see something on the Store that you believe should be there, and some other people will hate it and want it not to exist.

Naturally, Johnson made it clear that being allowed on Steam doesn't mean Valve agree with the content themselves. However, it now means a human at Valve can no longer just send out warnings of a game being removed from Steam. The fact that they're making this step, this real progress towards being more open is a good thing for developers and for gamers.

They continue to be my favourite store and I'm personally happy they will so openly admit when they're wrong and they didn't have a good handle on the situation. Their previous rules seemed to be okay for some, not okay for others—just too vague. Let's just hope the words turn into a reality.

Additionally though, a valid complaint will be that with even less curation finding games you want to see could end up being a bigger problem, one they will need to solve. Obviously this is where the likes of us come in, to let you know about good games, but an improved way to filter the Steam store itself will help. No matter what though, someone won't be happy.

Post updated after publishing.

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100 comments
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F.Ultra 6 June 2018 at 7:55 pm UTC
Makes sense. The people who are offended should instead utilize the Store Content Preferences and untick these two:
QuoteVIOLENT & SEXUAL CONTENT
Include products in my store that contain the following types of content:

  • Show products with frequent violence or gory content
    Applies to products frequently tagged as 'violent' or 'gore'. You may still see some of these products if they have not been labeled properly or if you specifically search for the title.

  • Show products with frequent nudity or sexual content
    Applies to products frequently tagged as 'nudity' or 'sexual content'. You may still see some products with this content for the following reasons: (1) If the sexual content or nudity is only a small portion of the product, (2) if the products have not been labeled properly, or (3) if you specifically search for the title.
shinnova 6 June 2018 at 7:59 pm UTC
Awesome news. Was wondering if they had lost their mind, but I guess they still classify as "good"
LibertyPaulM 6 June 2018 at 8:20 pm UTC
Good. I'm all for a liberal attitude to what games are published on Steam. It is, after all, a content delivery platform and not a content curator. You know, it's funny, I would never have heard of the school shooter game that had people all in a lather had certain elements of the media not lost their shit over it.
chuzzle44 6 June 2018 at 8:22 pm UTC
I wonder if the original notices were the work of a rouge employee. Valve has a pretty loose chain of command, so it's not unthinkable that there was a lack of oversight.
tmtvl 6 June 2018 at 8:38 pm UTC
QuoteShow products with frequent violence or gory content

If you hide products with frequent violence, won't you only have about 200 titles left in the entire store?
LeonardK 6 June 2018 at 8:45 pm UTC
I'm two minds about it, it's not purely a CDN, they're a direct advertising and selling platform, unlike the anonymous megaupload, rapidshare or piratebay.

They directly make money when people sell things "they" might even disagree with which I actually do think is not consequent. OTOH a company should not decide what's "good" or what's not.

From a morale POV I find this... troubling, we cannot just all decide to not take responsibility because everything is kind of a shared media.

From a freedom POV this is totally great. But I have seldomly, if at all, mourned the fact that something is not on steam due to some of Valves ppinions on the content. I think it is actually worth questioning whether this step is in fact an improvement, I doubt it will make way for relevant more freedom. However it will open the doors for ... quite some bullshit.

Also many people criticized Valve for their Greenlight project because it had not enough curation. This is another restriction gone, which will mean many low-quality games might try get on there and make it difficult to find anything.
liamdawe 6 June 2018 at 8:48 pm UTC
There's always a downside in having a more open store, with that I agree, but what we saw from Valve's previous policy is legitimate games getting reviewed by actual humans and being sent notices of removal.
nox 6 June 2018 at 8:57 pm UTC
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LeonardKFrom a morale POV I find this... troubling, we cannot just all decide to not take responsibility because everything is kind of a shared media.
Wouldn't a company deciding what is good and bad for you also be troubling from a morale POV?
Personally I'd rather be disgusted by something, rather than knowing that someone got censored.

And, just like this discussion - people have different points of view. Different ideas, opinions. Censoring (more than required by law) would just be morally correct for the person deciding what's good and bad.

But, there is no perfect way to do this, however this is a much better result than I feared.

Now - I do hope that this will make them work harder on making their frontpage filters work properly, and even make them better!

EDIT: Making sure that asset flips and straight out technically bad games doesn't get as much exposure would of course be great. If someone wants to install one of the asset flips they could search for it and do what they want.


Last edited by nox at 6 June 2018 at 9:04 pm UTC. Edited 3 times.
Keyrock 6 June 2018 at 9:01 pm UTC
I do wish there was some curation on Steam. I don't mean excluding games that may be offensive, taboo, etc. to some people, rather getting rid of the games that are quite obviously lazy asset flips and that barely even function. Heck, Steam's had some games on it in the past with missing executables. Some of these asset flips are really obvious, going so far as using stock Unity and Game Guru menus and just having a bunch of stock assets thrown randomly into a stock map with no creative direction nor anything resembling game design.
tonR 6 June 2018 at 9:19 pm UTC
Steam should change from "store" to "bazaar". Let's be honest, it is the de facto bazaar right now. Every games are on Steam.

Little bit ADD: Also, Valve should also remain neutral consistently. Anything or nothing and also anyone or no one.


Last edited by tonR at 6 June 2018 at 9:24 pm UTC
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