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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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slaapliedje 14 June 2018 at 3:13 am UTC
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Kels
Mal
Kels
NanobangGood. I'm glad Steam has grown up and grown some huevos.

...by taking the most spineless position possible that avoids actually having to actually do anything.

I'd say it's rather the opposite. It has always been easier for companies to censor and discriminate to appeal powerful religious/political organizations and stay out of their radar as much as possible.
Trouble-makers are always looking for a company to target with a holy crusade to enforce their own personal values on the masses. I bet it won't be long until some of these assholes start a @boycottvalve campaign using some insignificant game that nobody is forced to buy or play as a pretext. Yet Valve resolved to endure this for your and my freedom as well. And I praise them for that.

When the shitstorm will happen I will support them with my wallet as I do for linux gaming.

LOL! This isn't Valve taking a stand for freedom. This is Valve cowering in the corner and saying "Stop criticising us! Look! You can have your anime tiddy games!"

As other people have noted, they left themselves a "trolling" loophole to allow staff to kick out stuff like Active Shooter, although they're sure to only do so if there's a lot of negative media attention first.

Give us bewbies or give us breasts!
Mal 14 June 2018 at 9:24 am UTC
KelsLOL! This isn't Valve taking a stand for freedom. This is Valve cowering in the corner and saying "Stop criticising us! Look! You can have your anime tiddy games!"

As other people have noted, they left themselves a "trolling" loophole to allow staff to kick out stuff like Active Shooter, although they're sure to only do so if there's a lot of negative media attention first.

First there is nothing wrong with tiddies games.

Second I agree that an School Massacre Simulators games should also have a chance to fight for their place in the market.

Yet in the case of Active Shooter the difference was made by its developer. Who's for what I've understood is not exactly is a genuine national rifle association enthusiast that developed a piece of VG art/entertainment out of pure love for firearms and shooting. Given his past records I have no arguments to dispute Valve decision of calling him troll and banning him from the market.

But I also admit that I'm not very interested enough in this genre to spend my time on the Internet trying to figure out if Valve decision was correct or they abused the game developer. I'm quite uninformed outside the official news channels. So if anybody here can and want share some arguments on why this guy isn't a real troll I'm open to read it.
Nanobang 14 June 2018 at 11:54 am UTC
Eike
Nanobang
Kels
NanobangGood. I'm glad Steam has grown up and grown some huevos.

...by taking the most spineless position possible that avoids actually having to actually do anything.

I hear you, but I'm an adult and fine with taking responsibility for my own buying decisions.

He wasn't talking about your responsibilities, but about theirs.

Yes, yes, and which are whose, etc. I pretty much had to know that for my response to make a lick of sense, but thank you all the same.
Eike 14 June 2018 at 4:51 pm UTC
NanobangYes, yes, and which are whose, etc. I pretty much had to know that for my response to make a lick of sense, but thank you all the same.

You being responsible doesn't help about anybody but yourself, e.g. it doesn't help Valve. The problem always aren't the responsible adults, but the others.


Last edited by Eike at 14 June 2018 at 5:02 pm UTC
Nanobang 15 June 2018 at 12:30 pm UTC
EikeYou being responsible doesn't help about anybody but yourself ...
That would indeed be a strong implication of my saying that I take responsibility for my own buying decisions. It's also a strong implication of the phrase, caveat emptor.

Eike... e.g. it doesn't help Valve.
Thanks for the example, but I understood your phrase "doesn't help about [sic] anybody but yourself," but what of it? Do you think I should help Valve beyond being a paying customer?

EikeThe problem always aren't the responsible adults, but the others.
What others? Who are you talking about, and why and how are they "a problem" for you? I don't mean to sound strident, Eike. I feel like you're trying to say something, but, really, the more I try and find meaning, the less I see you saying.
Eike 15 June 2018 at 12:40 pm UTC
NanobangWhat others? Who are you talking about, and why and how are they "a problem" for you? I don't mean to sound strident, Eike. I feel like you're trying to say something, but, really, the more I try and find meaning, the less I see you saying.

If there's 99% sane and responsible people (which may or may not include you, I don't know and it doesn't matter for the point made), there's 1% other people. "I'm an adult and fine with taking responsibility", "I won't shoot anybody with my automatic rifle", "I'm not wanting Adolf Hitler back." (for the records: I met people online who want) and the like doesn't touch the problem at all.

PS: I'm not a native speaker of the English language. "about anybody" was supposed to mean "nearly anybody". If this is not correct, I'm always open for corrections. (Seriously.)


Last edited by Eike at 15 June 2018 at 12:41 pm UTC
Purple Library Guy 15 June 2018 at 11:35 pm UTC
I believe what Eike is getting at is that there are cases in which free speech creates actual harm. There are always edge cases--the main point of free speech is to protect expression of political opinions in disagreement with either the authorities or the majority of the citizens.
But stray from politics and there are always necessary limits; a naive extension of free speech absolutism about political expression to other realms just doesn't work. Examples of speech that nobody ever worries about criminalizing: Speech intended to seduce minors, speech in the service of fraud (eg phishing), false advertising . . . speech rights can come into conflict with other rights. The question is always just where to draw the lines, not whether there are any. Personally, I've found for instance that well moderated discussion lists which draw some lines are way better than "anything goes" lists because while in theory "anything goes" allows more freedom of speech, in practice what it allows is intimidation and the tactical use of offensiveness to drive away people who aren't megacombative. Given that, it could be argued that in largely declining to draw any lines, Valve are copping out, failing to protect other things, as much as they are protecting speech.

But it's all about the specifics. I don't really see the need to put a lot of limits to "speech" in the case of offensive computer games. There are very few games I see as posing a huge issue offensiveness-wise, and those few are probably covered by Steam's "trolling" category. Everything else might cause someone who stumbled upon it with tender sensibilities some mild shock, but that's about the least important reason for limiting speech and just not good enough IMO. Further, most games that could be a problem are only offensive if they are pushed at a customer against their will. But those games aren't going to be--the headline games you just see on the front page aren't like that (unless you can't handle the basic computer game foundation that ultra-violence is OK, but then you should maybe go play scrabble), and the "recommended" games are generally only going to show "offensive" content of types your history suggests interest in. So for the most part, if you want to be offended by a game you're going to have to search for it. In which case, your problem--if someone actively goes looking for things to be offended by, they can live with what they get.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 15 June 2018 at 11:36 pm UTC
LeonardK 16 June 2018 at 8:15 am UTC
Purple Library GuyI believe what Eike is getting at is that there are cases in which free speech creates actual harm. There are always edge cases--the main point of free speech is to protect expression of political opinions in disagreement with either the authorities or the majority of the citizens.
But stray from politics and there are always necessary limits; a naive extension of free speech absolutism about political expression to other realms just doesn't work. Examples of speech that nobody ever worries about criminalizing: Speech intended to seduce minors, speech in the service of fraud (eg phishing), false advertising . . . speech rights can come into conflict with other rights. The question is always just where to draw the lines, not whether there are any. Personally, I've found for instance that well moderated discussion lists which draw some lines are way better than "anything goes" lists because while in theory "anything goes" allows more freedom of speech, in practice what it allows is intimidation and the tactical use of offensiveness to drive away people who aren't megacombative. Given that, it could be argued that in largely declining to draw any lines, Valve are copping out, failing to protect other things, as much as they are protecting speech.

Exactly, some call "anything goes" als "positive freedom" in the sense as looking from the pov of the individual, there are no boundaries to their specific free speech.

But there's also negative freedom: How does the freedom of others impact (and limit) your freedom.
Nanobang 16 June 2018 at 1:07 pm UTC
Purple Library GuyI believe what Eike is getting at is that there are cases in which free speech creates actual harm.

That's my takeaway from Eike's latest post as well---and now that I know English is not Eike's first language, I can see that what I thought might be glib generalizations was in fact mere linguistic awkwardness.

Likely Eike's responses to my initial posts were similarly hobbled by Eike's limited command of English. Had I been aware, I would have never even replied.

And yes, I'm quite aware of the "dark" side, if you will, of free speech/expression---and I feel like that's the precisely why Valve has wisely reserved the right to remove content at their discretion---it's their company, so it's their call.
slaapliedje 16 June 2018 at 4:13 pm UTC
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Nanobang
Purple Library GuyI believe what Eike is getting at is that there are cases in which free speech creates actual harm.

That's my takeaway from Eike's latest post as well---and now that I know English is not Eike's first language, I can see that what I thought might be glib generalizations was in fact mere linguistic awkwardness.

Likely Eike's responses to my initial posts were similarly hobbled by Eike's limited command of English. Had I been aware, I would have never even replied.

And yes, I'm quite aware of the "dark" side, if you will, of free speech/expression---and I feel like that's the precisely why Valve has wisely reserved the right to remove content at their discretion---it's their company, so it's their call.

My thought on this is that if Valve let something into it's store in the first place, it shouldn't be able to randomly remove it because of some shift in someone's sensibilities. Granted, that doesn't help with some of the ones that crept in under Greenlight, but even those probably had some sort of final say.

I think of them yanking out the ones with animated breasts to be the equivalent of Utah stores banning all the nude magazines. Something that shouldn't have happened.
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