Steam is, by far, the largest digital distribution platform for PC gamers, with it having 75% of the market space per estimations in 2013. Now, it seems that Steam has issued a warning to several game developers concerning sexual content, threatening to remove the games if not censored before a specified deadline. Notably, however, this warning has only been issued to developers who make visual novel-type games or anime-style games.
Developers like HuniePot (creators of HuniePop), Neko Works (creators of Tropical Liquor), and Lupiesoft (creators of Mutiny!!) all received warnings from Valve, but developers who make games such as The Witcher or Conan Exiles – both of which have a fair amount of sexual content – have not reportedly received these warnings. Lupiesoft maintains that its game respects Steam's guidelines, and it's noteworthy that games like HuniePop require external patches to unlock the sexual content.
Until there is confirmation from developers from other genres, it seems that this warning only applies to the aforementioned game styles. Check out the developers' tweets concerning the situation:
- IMPORTANT NOTICE -— HunieDev (@HuniePotDev) May 17, 2018
I've received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop violates the rules & guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content.
We have been informed that adult content in Tropical Liquor must be censored by the end of this month or the game will be removed from Steam. We are working on this issue.https://t.co/Cs3VxVARQy #steam— NEKO WORKs@Official (@nekopara_pr) May 18, 2018
We've just received some troubling news today that @steam_games has decided to pull down our titled "Mutiny!!" within 2 weeks for 'reports of pornographic content'. Now those of you who know @Lupiesoft know that we don't put that on Steam, or advertise that content on Steam.— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
In fact @Lupiesoft has been one of the strictest developers in terms of following Steam's guidelines, and absolutely nothing in Mutiny!! violates their guidelines. After our Steam publisher @MangaGamer met with Valve in person, they were told that ecchi content was fine on steam.— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
This puts @Lupiesoft in a bad situation. while funding for #DizzyHearts is secure, Mutiny!! was our biggest title, this threatens our future when a platform like @steam_games can decide on a whim to just pull our games even when we follow their guidelines.— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
This is not normal, this is not okay. Games are being pulled simply because they look a certain way and there is a stigma behind the look of a game. In the future this could easily extend to anyone who even makes visual novels no matter how 'sexy' they might appear to be.— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
This threatens the future livelihood of any developer even wanting to work on Visual Novels in the future, this threatens the very fabric of the medium itself, when THE largest sales platform can just pull your game without justification or reason at any moment.— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
While the situation is unfortunate for these developers, it's not the first time a Banhammer has been wielded concerning these games, as HuniePop was previously banned from streaming on Twitch. As seen above, Lupiesoft insists that this "nuclear option" ignores both previously established terms and western games with comparable content. The company also insisted other developers speak up against this action, because it represents a real threat in the future when a single company can make decisions such as this.
Considering Valve wants to start making games again, it will be interesting to see how this decision affects the company moving forward, but this decision doesn't only affect Valve. It could easily have negative consequences for developers of this aforementioned genres and for those who work at those studios.
Tell us, Ranters, do you think Steam is right in insisting on these changes?