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Steam Store to allow everything that isn't illegal or trolling

Company takes a laissez faire approach to curation, promises improved user filters instead

Valve doesn't want to decide what belongs on Steam. Today, the company announced it would allow just about everything on the Steam store, regardless of content concerns.

"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," Valve said in the announcement. "If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

"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."

This decision comes on the heels of a seemingly random warning sent out (and then retracted) to multiple developers and publishers of games containing nudity or sexual content, asking them to censor the content or be taken down. A few weeks later, school shooting simulator Active Shooter was removed from the store after complaints about its violent content, though Valve indicated it was removed due to the creator's abuse of the platform instead.

In the aftermath of both, multiple Steam developers spoke in frustration at Valve's unclear (or effectively non-existent) content policies, inconsistent enforcement, and lack of communication with creators on the subject.

Valve explained that the company intends to add new tools and systems that will allow users to filter content on the store, and that it will not dramatically change how it handles content until those tools (whatever form they may take) are released. A team will still review all incoming submissions to ensure games are technically sound, and the company's current plan is to start pushing developers harder to disclose sensitive content that users may want to filter for.

While throwing open the doors in this way will more than likely invite an even wider swath of games that include "an entire range of controversial topics - politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity," Valve endeavors to absolve itself of affiliation with anything that engage these issues in harmful ways. Valve stated that any games allowed on the store should not be considered a reflection of the company's values. "If you see something on Steam that you think should not exist," insists the announcement, "it's almost certain that someone at Valve is right there with you."

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Latest comments (3)

William D. Volk Researcher, Human Health6 months ago
This is good news.

With Apple and Google, you have a subjective review of games. You can be compliant to the letter of the rules and still be rejected.
8Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Anthony Gowland Director, Ant Workshop6 months ago
Valve making a statement that they are officially a-ok with profiting from selling racist material.

A staggeringly bad look for any company.
2Sign inorRegisterto rate and reply
Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz6 months ago
Unacceptable language George. Your tone isn't welcome here.
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