Valve has added an official LGBTQ+ tag and hub page to Steam, allowing developers and users to sort games into it for easier discovery.
Kotaku reports that this development has been one a long time coming. Steam's tagging system is divided into official and unofficial tags, with official tags informing how the storefront recommends games to users and unofficial tags simply being a system for individual users to sort games for themselves without that tag being visible to others.
The system didn't always work this way, and an LGBT tag with its own hub page existed until last year, when Valve began to distinguish between official and unofficial tags. Any tags Valve didn't deem official received the same treatment.
Now, an LGBTQ+ tag has been added and is just beginning to populate with games. Kotaku notes that this occurred shortly after Nepenthe developer Yitz posted on the Steam developer forums about such a tag being a good fit for his upcoming game, To The Dark Tower.
"I thought it would be appropriate to add a 'LGBTQ' tag, or at least a 'Diversity' tag," he said in the Steam developer forums. "To my great surprise, such tags are not given as possible options. Neither is anything similar. The closest you get to a Diversity tag is 'Female Protagonist,' which while nice, is a very limited subset of what both developers and players are looking for when talking about diversity in games."
One concern expressed by developers replying to Yitz was that the tag could be abused by trolls, either by users or developers applying it to games it did not apply to, or by bad actors using the tag to target LGBTQ+-focused games for harassment. Others argued the tag was important regardless.
"Tags like this are important because of what Steam tags are currently being used for-classifying games by various factors that will impact the player's experience, and recommending games with similar tags to players who seem to like a lot of the given tag," Yitz said. "As such, tags are sort of equivalent to visibility, in a way. If I enjoy a lot of games tagged 'Psychological Horror,' for example, Steam will show me more psychological horror games. If I want to play more games that challenge traditional gender roles, until today Steam had no way of knowing that."
Last summer, a number of smaller developers and publishers on Steam were thrown for a loop when they were told to censor "pornographic content" in their games, or risk their removal from Steam. Many of these games included very little to no risque content at all, and many included LGBTQ themes, characters, and discussions. At the time, developers expressed frustration that their games were being targeted for issues surrounding relationships and sexuality.
Valve eventually relented and declared that any game would be allowed on its storefront that wasn't "illegal or trolling."