Steam has always been a bit of a lawless corner of the gaming internet, with Valve mostly taking a hands-off approach to its community and the games that it hosts. Which has led to the platform hosting a slew of anime-style adult games. It appears, however, that the gaming platform is going to be cracking down on games with anime art and sexual contact.
As PCGamer reports, on Thursday, several game developers indicated that their products had been flagged as porn. The platform ordered the developers to remove the sexual content from their games, or have the games torn down from Steam. Steam has given the devs two weeks to remove the content.
Many of these games have been available on the Steam Store for months, in some cases, they've been on Steam for years.
All of the titles being flagged feature anime-style art and some nudity, as well as overtly sexual imagery. To abide by Steam's policies, these games have been labeled as containing sexual images.
It seems like that isn't enough now.
From PCGamer's report:
The developers say they're in the dark over why Steam suddenly reversed course. One publisher, MangaGamer, said it had taken "great pains" to run its own title by Valve representatives to ensure none of the content would be considered porn. But now it appears that at least eight games will be affected by the upcoming crackdown.
In a tweet, the developer Lupiesoft said Steam was singling out anime-style games for sexual content, when hit titles from US developers that also feature nudity and sex have been left "unscathed" by the upcoming change.
"Games are being pulled simply because they look a certain way and there is a stigma behind the look of a game," the developer added.
However, Steam isn't the only platform to take a stricter stance on porn in recent months. Back in October, crowdfunding service Patreon also unveiled new rules against porngraphy, causing many developers to complain.
Many gamers have reacted to this news with disappointment and anger, as they feel Valve is being unfair in targeting anime games for this, and not games with more realistic graphics.
Regardless of my personal feelings about the validity of these games, the threats from Steam seem to go a step too far. Porn censorship is a pretty volatile topic and it has touched most art forms at some point. And it hearkens back to the broader art censorship debate. Both debates posit some semblance of "moral decency" against artistic and personal freedoms.
To see this pop up in video games isn't much of a surprise, but Valve taking such a hardline stance on it is certainly problematic for the developers.
After all, Steam is the biggest host for independent pc games, and these guidelines will disproportionately affect small studios who may not have the manpower to remove the content in only two weeks.
While I am glad to see Valve take a more hands-on approach with their community, I can't help but feel like they picked the wrong topic to wrangle.