Today reports surfaced about several warnings sent by Valve to multiple developers of games including varying degrees of adult content on the Steam digital download platform.
At the moment, the amount of information we have is limited, but it seems that the crackdown has mostly affected titles featuring anime or anime-like art style.
While the issue is still in the flow, and developers are in the process of understanding what to do and how to respond to Steam’s warnings and threat of removal if further censorship isn’t applied to the game within a given deadline (which appears to be by the end of the month in most cases) other digital download portals are offering a new home for the games affected.
As you can see below, JAST USA, MangaGamer and Nutaku have expressed on social media the availability to host the impacted titles, encouraging developers to contact them.
We’re disappointed about Steam’s new enforcement of their content policy, hurting good developers. VNs should be accessible to everyone, so we’re making an open invitation to any VN developers who’d like to join our DRM-free store to release their titles. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org pic.twitter.com/bBs9RcB4uh
— JAST USA (@jastusa) May 18, 2018
On that note, we would also like to invite any developers affected by this content policy issue or concerned about its potential effect on their ability to sell their titles to contact us. We’d be more than happy to work with you if Valve won’t.
— MangaGamer (@MangaGamer) May 18, 2018
COME ONE COME ALL; NUTAKU IS THE HOME OF HENTAI AND ADULT GAMING
If you know of anyone affected by Steam’s decision to remove mature games for having sexual content, let them know they have a home on Nutaku! Reach out to email@example.com for more info!#eroge #gamedev #steam
— Nutaku Games™ (@nutakugames) May 18, 2018
It’s worth mentioning that this alone probably won’t solve the issue for the affected developers, as losing a large platform like steam and the visibility it offers might potentially have crippling effects especially on small independent teams, even if alternatives are available.
Many of the games affected were already censored in order to comply with Steam’s policies, with the adult content locked behind external patches. Multiple developers mentioned that they had been previously working with Valve in order to ensure said compliance. Due to that, the situation is certainly surprising.
An example was provided by Kindred Spirits on the Roof publisher MangaGamer Press Director John Picket via press release sent to DualShockers:
“This is terrible news for everyone in the visual novel industry and the gaming industry as whole. We followed every guideline provided to us by Valve to the letter, so there is no reason for this title to be cut off when it has conformed to the standards provided. The sexual content present in Kindred Spirits is no worse that what can readily be found in titles like The Witcher series, yet those remain unaffected. When we launched Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning on Steam, we took it through the ESRB rating system because it featured content that was slightly more explicit than that of Kindred Spirits, and that passed review with a Mature rating, not AO.
It is dangerous for every small, indie development team when a major entity can just cut off the revenue streams they rely on like this, even after they have followed all proper procedures and conformed to the standards and guidelines provided by the retailer. Especially when no clear guidance or notice is provided when new standards are being implemented.
If this is more than just a major short-sighted error on Valve’s end, it could be disastrous for visual novels and the advancements in expression within gaming made in recent years.”
Below you can read the warning MangaGamer received:
“We’ve discovered pornographic depictions in your product: Kindred Spirits on the Roof. This is a violation of our rules and guidelines for content that can be distributed on the Steam platform. We won’t be able distribute the product on Steam as long as it includes pornographic depictions.”
Most of the games affected tend to have positive to very positive reviews on Steam, going to show that while their appeal may be niche, they certainly have a dedicated and appreciative community.
In the meanwhile, DualShockers got word from Funcom that the Norwegian developer received no warning from Steam about the adult content included in the recently-released Conan Exiles.