Questionable Content Will Still Be Monitored and Approved Case by Case
Steam its updating its policy, and it’s not private. Today, the great PC game distributor released a new blog post outlining the company’s new stance on content. The decision came about from the recent controversy surrounding what content creators can and cannot place in the store. Valve’s heavy-handed approach to censorship has stirred the hornet’s nest of users who would prefer no censorship and those who seek proper curating for better content. Today, Valve spelled out their new policy regarding content availability. Basically, Steam will accept all games but no games that “are illegal, or straight-up trolling.”
Over on their blog, Valve elaborated on the curating process and allayed fears of its being automated. The company affirms that human beings are indeed monitoring the platform. As such, when considering appropriate content for the store, Valve said: “we’re including our own employees, their families and their communities in that.” Now, for the sake of its users, Steam is allowing content that may be considered controversial for some.
“We already have some tools, but they’re too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough,” Valve wrote. “We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you’re not interested in. So if you don’t want to see anime games on your Store, you’ll be able to make that choice. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you’ll be able to do that.”
The definitions of “illegal” and “straight-up trolling” are open to their share of interpretation. Which is why Valve states, “we’re going to need to handle this on a case-by-case basis.” This process demands transparency between the platform and content creators. Creators who fail to disclose potentially problematic content during the submission process will lose Steam’s business. Of course, there are also clear Steam policy guidelines that must be followed, but Valve recently reprimanded developers who had abided by these rules. Valve later admitted that this was a mistake, but developers lost faith. As a result, some have made the transition over to GOG.
Typically, Valve has cracked down on any and all uncensored content. Just as well, they’ve cracked down on developers who offer uncensored patches for their games on the site. Whether or not Valve will continue booting these creators—or whether or not the same censorship policy applies—was not revealed in the update. Nonetheless, Valve stressed that the approval of content on their platform does not constitute an endorsement.
“If we allow your game onto the Store, it does not mean we approve or agree with anything you’re trying to say with it,” Valve continued. “If you’re a developer of offensive games, this isn’t us siding with you against all the people you’re offending. There will be people throughout the Steam community who hate your games, and hope you fail to find an audience, and there will be people here at Valve who feel exactly the same way. However, offending someone shouldn’t take away your game’s voice. We believe you should be able to express yourself like everyone else, and to find others who want to play your game. But that’s it.”
Undoubtedly, the endorsement disclaimer applies to the recent school shooting FPS that recently reached the Steam shop. The game, which placed players in the role of an active school shooter, was removed from the store only after Valve investigated the developer to find a “history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.” Time will tell where Steam’s new policy takes the platform and its creators, and we’ll be watching as the story unfolds. Have any thoughts on Steam’s new direction? Feel free to comment your thoughts below.