Valve Will Now 'Allow Everything' Onto Steam Except Illegal or 'Troll' Content

Written by Jon Sutton on Thu, Jun 7, 2018 11:20 AM
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Valve has finally taken some time to address a few controversies that have been rocking the Steam store, namely the removal of content consider to be extreme, such as Active Shooter, a school-shooting simulator.

There’s a whole lot of confusion as to what is and isn’t allowed on the Steam store, with various visual novel and dating game developers recently being told their games could be removed, only to be told a few days later they were fine. For now. Valve’s guidelines on the matter just aren’t clear enough, but in a new blog post, they’ve addressed exactly what gets to be on the Steam store.

“Decision making in this space is particularly challenging, and one that we've really struggled with,” explains Valve. “Contrary to many assumptions, this isn't a space we've automated - humans at Valve are very involved, with groups of people looking at the contents of every controversial title submitted to us. Similarly, people have falsely assumed these decisions are heavily affected by our payment processors, or outside interest groups. Nope, it's just us grappling with a really hard problem.

“Unfortunately, our struggling has resulted in a bunch of confusion among our customers, developer partners, and even our own employees,” says Valve.

What’s most surprising here is that Valve has admitted that there is no automation in regards to what goes on the Steam store. All those asset flips and troll games have been approved by a person at Valve, which backs up Valve’s new claims that there is essentially no curation whatsoever on Steam.

Anyway, in an effort to clear up what developers can and can’t release, Valve has basically opened up the Steam store to almost everything.

“If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy,” writes Valve. “If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. With that principle in mind, we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”

The only blurry line now is what Valve considers ‘trolling’. Active Shooter falls under this umbrella, and it likely to extends to any games with overtly hateful or controversial content. For most of the customer base, it should be fairly simple to tell the difference. In the same way ‘you know it when you see it’ in regards to the boundaries of what is or isn’t pornography, the same is likely going to apply to the content of games. There’s a huge, huge difference between a game showing nudity or being grotesquely violent, and a game that exists purely to explicitly incite violence or hate against a particular group of people. Valve’s job is going to be to attempt to tread this line, although it’s not going to be particularly easy.

“The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content,” Valve explains. “Instead, it's about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics - politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on.” Now, this is really quite a weird thing for Valve to say. Rather than express that racism is bad, for example, it’s a ‘controversy’. As if both sides have a valid argument. There’s a big difference between a game that contains racism (as plenty do, it’s perfectly valid) and a game that actively encourages racist or hateful behaviour. It’s all a bit Stone Age, but there we go.

It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don't think should exist,” sums up Valve. “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.

“It also means that the games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve’s values, beyond a simple belief that you all have the right to create & consume the content you choose. The two points above apply to all of us at Valve as well. If you see something on Steam that you think should not exist, it's almost certain that someone at Valve is right there with you.”

We’ll have to see how this one shakes out. Based on what Valve’s saying, the floodgates are pretty much open now. They’re leaning even further away from curation, which is absolutely distinct from censorship. A private company such as Valve dictating what it does and doesn’t sell on its own store doesn’t ever amount to censorship, it’s merely the act of curation. That curation is basically being thrown out of the window, propping up a welcome sign to asset flippers, spammers, racists, homophobes, and sexists. It'll be interesting to see how, or if, this going to impact the type of games that crop up on Steam.

What are your thoughts, should Steam be an absolute free-for-all? Is this going to make it more difficult to find the content you actually want? Let us know below!

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17:21 Jun-08-2018

I don't see why people would complain about "too many games on steam" - you certainly don't have to waste your time going through them! Watch a video "best games of 20XX" or two, look at the upcoming AAA and generally promising games (which are announced and talked-about here all the time!), etc. Your friends will surely recommend something, your fav youtubers or streamers will surely show you something - you'll find something to play. I have so many good games to play and yet so little time in comparison to the amount of content available that I never have to dig through the "bargain bin" of Steam to find something.


I don't see the floodgates opening being a problem - I welcome it.

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11:59 Jun-08-2018

After reading the comments i don't really know much about what or how to say this. But as i see it, it's all about how you take it, people might like this, or not like this, like valve says. You guys either don't like it or do like it. What i thought wasn't what kind of games are gonna be up. No.


What i thought was: "Are there gonna be uncensored H-Type anime games available on steam??!"


So yeah, kinda felt like im missing the point of something you guys are seeing... but im just me.

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14:05 Jun-08-2018

Well, i get you :)) and i think vale is right, we should be the curators of what will be on store and not valve itself.


To boil it down, some of us are afraid that there will be offensive games on store and some don't(kind pointless if u think about the fact that there alredy are offensive games on store =)) ) and we're also debating on what standards should we use to make that distinction.

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23:00 Jun-07-2018

So let me try to understand this Steam wants to bring back games that was removed from the store and places back on there cause there is a few games i wanted in the past (never had the money for it) which one of them is the 2009 Wolfenstein which i enjoyed playing but a pain to get for PC and others like The Amazing Spider-Man (cause i bought the second one back then and actually enjoyed it) and some friends of mine would love to get a hold of Deadpool since that game gets put on and taken off often.

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22:12 Jun-07-2018

Ehh i don't like shovelware though. I don't know how to feel about this.

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14:22 Jun-08-2018

Just don't buy the shoverwalre and they'll stop putting it on steam(since they won't have a monetary incentive)

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22:11 Jun-08-2018

True.

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22:03 Jun-07-2018

Please no more stupid and pointless games, steam is transforming into google play where you can see all sort of s*it.

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21:19 Jun-07-2018

People miss one important thing here. Valve will allow the game devs to make a game with eg. racist content, but that has nothing to do with region block. I live in Germany and I hardly believe, that I'll benefit from Valve's new Policy

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19:08 Jun-07-2018

Good. Players should be able to chose what they want to play. NO to censorship.

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17:46 Jun-07-2018

May our Champion Jim Sterling save us all ;-;

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16:57 Jun-07-2018

WHOOPS...!

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16:24 Jun-07-2018

That makes it even harder to find quality games in the floods of trash games on steam..

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14:25 Jun-08-2018

True, now they need to think about how to make it easyer to fiind the games we actually want :))

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15:07 Jun-07-2018

How abt we stop relating a game too much with reality and just play it thinking u r playing in a fictional world. I personally think tht a game is played with the idea of having fun and definitely not for picking up bad ideologies and all. Sure some argue abt influences and encouragement, but in the end Its all abt the person who is playing it and I think we as gamers should know the difference between reality and imagination.

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17:21 Jun-07-2018

Honestly, i think Valve thinks the same way as you

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17:28 Jun-07-2018

In a way yeah, lol, but for totally different reasons

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14:25 Jun-08-2018

True, but should we argue about theyr reasons as long as they think about what we want and care and try to make it work?

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13:56 Jun-07-2018

No troll content? As in all the bullsh!t cash-grab indie games?

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12:21 Jun-07-2018

it's like saying u can kill in games(u can kill in many games ok!) but if u kill a person of particular race in a game that game is racists and if u kill for example gays that game is homophobist while in all of them ure just killing!

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12:24 Jun-07-2018

but i think it's actually more homophobist and racists if u can't do these gays and for example black people or women deserves to die in games as any other person in games that's equality after all right?

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12:33 Jun-07-2018

I think you're completely missing the point? Killing people in games is accepted, and fine. Killing people who happen to be black, or women, or gay, is absolutely fine.


However, if a game deliberately makes the player target people for the very reason that they are black or gay (for example) as a reason for that killing, that isn't fine. That's the difference between something like GTA V, which is relatively indiscriminate, and Gay Murder Simulator or whatever it would be called. I'd take a similar viewpoint on Cisgender White Man Murder Simulator too, for what it's worth.

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12:58 Jun-07-2018

idk but isn't wolfenstein about killing nazis it's a fantasy world it's ok but if it was reversed and nazis was black then it would be racists or a game about idk Auschwitz can be called racists while it's history or any country vs another

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13:04 Jun-07-2018

Well Jon, i think that's a bit shortsighted. Expressing an ideea or your thought should always be possible. A game might emphasise what's wrong in being racist, for example, by making you do it. It's not about what you can or can't do it a game, but the context in the game and around the game. As Sajjadf pointed out, Wolfenstein encourages violance against a group of people,

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13:08 Jun-07-2018

It doesn't matter who that group of people is, encouraging violance against a group is encouraging violance against a group and by your own standard wolfenstein shouldn't be on store. What valve is allowing is an oportunity for everyone to express theyr creative endeavors. Also the fact that you're automatically assuming that people won't use that said freedom to creative even better, more

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13:14 Jun-07-2018

engaging games is foolish. Most people will likely use it to the benefit of the many, while a couple might use it as you described it to be "asset flippers, spammers, racists, homophobes, and sexists."

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14:22 Jun-07-2018

I think the context is a fair point, provided it's handled with care then I could see that working.


As for Wolfenstein, it's not even comparable. I never said there is no justification in a game for violence against a group of people. There is. Violence against a fascist regime with a tyrannical leader that was prepared to kill millions was seen as a necessity at the time. Murdering people because they're women, for example, is the absolute opposite. There is no justification there, just a random act of hate.


If we can't distinguish those two things then there's not really much hope for us is there.

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18:45 Jun-07-2018

WHOA. Are we defending...NAZIS? I have no words.

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08:05 Jun-08-2018

It's a wild world out there lol

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08:33 Jun-08-2018

when did we go from defending games to defending nazis?

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16:09 Jun-07-2018

Its ether all okay, Or none of it is.

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16:11 Jun-07-2018

What's that mean?

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08:28 Jun-08-2018

I see your point, and i do agree with it to a certain degree, but it still doesn't adress the issue and that is that you're coming up with a rule and then making exceptions to that rule. That's a rabbit whole, provide a couple of exceptions and you can just keep adding them up. It's not about distinguishing and establishing that one thing is bad or not, we can pretty much agree that nazis are bad

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08:33 Jun-08-2018

The problem is that under the rule you bring forth games like Postal or Hatred most likely wold have never been accepted on steam and that is the big caviat we need to think about.

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12:10 Jun-08-2018

It's not really that deep a rabbit hole though is it. Don't put games that are clearly made by arseholes being arseholes. Pretty much everything can get released in my book, barring something that's absolutely preaching hate. Postal and Hatred are fine to be released I think, if people want them, but they suck anyway lol.


Even with Valve taking a hands-off approach, they're drawing the line somewhere though, which is why we're seeing Active Shooter and AIDS Simulator removed. Games can get away with including these elements provided it's handled well contextually, or even if it's satirical, such as South Park.

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14:15 Jun-08-2018

well jon, i agrre with you and i quote:" Don't put games that are clearly made by arseholes being arseholes. " My problem is the subjective standards by wich we decide whats games fit that description and the exceptions that we make from the rule(vale was guilty of this, too). Alot of us were frustrated that some games were taken down with no apparent reason and that, will hopefully stop now.

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14:18 Jun-08-2018

Now, i wold like for valve to set in stone as to what they think "Troll" means. Games can still be taken down with no reason by valve just by stating that they were "trolling" and i don't like that.


From what i gathered, your viewpoint is pretty much the same as mine, the diference is that i emphesise, or at least try, to remove subjectivity from the decision.

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11:28 Jun-07-2018

Not once have I found a game I want to play through steam.
I think Valve seeing themselves as an open marketplace now is a great idea, the publicity a game use to get through appearing on the store front might have been good, but I as a consumer personally don't care about that.

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22:11 Jun-07-2018

There are so many games out there on steam. And you don't play any game at all through Steam?


I question you.

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11:19 Jun-08-2018

Sorry, not a native English speaker here. What I wanted to say was that I have never found a game I didn't know about beforehand through steam.
Like, when I go to the Steam store, it's because I already know the game I'm looking for will be on there.
I never went to the Steam store, saw a game I didn't know existed, and then bought it.

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