If you’re a fan of visual novels and anime games, well… You might have seen the bad news recently. Valve – the company behind the video game service Steam – has begun removing certain games from the platform.
The games involved are reportedly those such as HuniePop, Mutiny!! and Tropical Liquor, all of which feature graphics drawn in an anime style and quite a bit of sexual content. Oh, boy.
Even from the perspective of someone who doesn’t necessarily like this sort of game and who doesn’t really like ecchi anime, this all seems a bit unfair. As noted in the tweets below, the developers have just a small amount of time to censor these games.
– IMPORTANT NOTICE –
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.
— HunieDev (@HuniePotDev) May 17, 2018
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
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
But, uh…censor what, exactly?
Let’s take the example of HuniePop. It’s not exactly the best game in the world, sure, but the nudity within the Steam-friendly censored version never shows what the underwear is covering. A game like this does of course have an uncensored version, but that’s not the version that’s on Steam — for the uncensored version, you have to manually go on their website and install the patch.
If the issue is the fact that the HuniePop developers advertised this patch, which is against Steam policies, why didn’t they just tell the developers to not advertise it? A developer on the Galaxy Girls game stated that this was against Valve’s policies way back in October, so it’s certainly no secret.
Steam reps have told us that they no longer allow any information or links to the uncensored patches on steam, so they all had to be removed. We will gradually be updating our own website with info on how to install the patch.
– Dharker (Galaxy Girls developer) on the Steam Community forums
Yet, despite this, Karmasutra and Roommates – two other games affected by this purge – have also begun advertising uncensored patches, making it so easy (in one instance) to enable with just a press of a button in the options menu.
All of this brings it down to one question: why?
As of writing, there isn’t exactly one confirmed reason as to why Valve is doing it. Theories suggest that it’s down to new employees at Valve or a disagreement with PayPal over paying for “sexually oriented digital goods or content delivered through a digital medium“. Thus, I’m going to be proposing a new set of questions.
Why is it just anime games being affected? And why now?
All of the games on the purge list are exclusively drawn in an anime-style. If they’re wanting to delete games with overtly sexual content, why isn’t Valve targeting games such as Grand Theft Auto, which is infamous for featuring prostitution, or Conan Exiles, which features heavy nudity and a literal “endowment” slider which adjusts the size of the male member? Are they seriously drawing the line at anime and nothing else?
If Valve are wanting to purge the games which have sexual content in, why don’t we go as extreme and go for The Sims, hm? Or has “WooHoo” managed to censor the actual content enough for it to be bypassed? This is, of course, a hypothetical extreme, but hey – they’ve started putting pen to paper, but where do we draw the line? Will other sex-heavy games go? Will it be exclusively for anime-based games? Who knows?
The last time something similar happened was with the game Hatred, a game where you take the role of a psycho serial killer who kills innocents. It was deemed too gory by Steam employees, there was a huge backlash from the gaming community and, ultimately, the CEO of Valve had to put his foot down and intervene. Whether sexual content is more inappropriate than gory violence, however, is a whole other can if worms that we’ll potentially open another day.
Although there’s no clear reason as to why this has happened, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) have claimed this to be a victory, suggesting that, alongside the theories of the new employees of Steam being over-the-top “social justice warriors”, Steam really were pushed to do something about these games. Of course, I still don’t agree that they’ve segregated the anime games and not focused on games such as GTA, despite the anime games—or some of them at least—having more context for the sexual content rather than mere prostitution.
As for the PayPal theory, I can’t really imagine this being the case. Sure, it states that PayPal cannot be used in the purchasing of pornographic content within their terms and conditions, but there are other methods of payment that can be used on Steam. Why would a simple disagreement with PayPal affect Steam selling these games?
Ultimately, from my perspective, it’s all coming down to a miscommunication. Steam really need to make their policies known to developers, before they threaten with the deletion of their games, threatening their incomes etc. If there’s one thing for sure, communication here is key. As long as there’s a miscommunication issue, there’ll be issues like this one where people’s incomes (no matter how little they earn from such games) are affected. Arguably, this whole miscommunication is due to the fact Steam don’t in fact have managers – people don’t report to any managers whatsoever. Some employees may think the game to be fine, whilst others disagree completely. Gotta love that peer-pressure, huh?
What are your thoughts on this? I imagine there’ll be a lot of opinions on this topic, so let me know what you think in the comments below!
Until next time!
– Amelia x