Valve will no longer be policing games on the Steam Store that stir up controversy, the company said in a blog post on Wednesday.
The distribution platform wrote that it ultimately decided that they will allow all content that they determine is not illegal or “straight up trolling.”
“Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see,” Valve’s Erik Johnson wrote.
The decision comes just a week after Valve pulled “Active Shooter” from Steam, a controversial title described as a “school shooting simulation.”
Valve was put under pressure to remove the title from the Steam Store after it drew negative attention from the public, and pulled it before its original June 6 release date. In the game, players could choose to be members of the SWAT team taking down the shooter, or the titular school shooter.
The decision to remove the game will stand under Valve’s new standard, as they told Variety in a statement that developer Ata Berdyev is a known “troll” with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation. Berdyev was found to be operating under numerous names on Steam, and had previously been removed from the platform under the names “[bc]Interactive” and “Elusive Team” before creating the names “Acid” and “Revived Games” to publish “Active Shooter.”
As for how Steam plans to put this new policy into effect, they are candid that they will likely “continue to struggle” with the issue, noting that the current plan is to firmly request that game developers reveal “potentially problematic content in their games during the submission process” and cut off business with those who are dishonest in revealing details.
They will also continue performing their own technical evaluations of each game that is put on the Steam Store.
Further, Valve plans to enhance tools already available that are currently “too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough” to help hide games that users don’t want to see or don’t want their children to see when browsing the Steam Store. Valve also stated that developers of controversial games need tools and options to avoid harassment, but did not specify what types of tools they will build.
Finally, Valve expressed that allowing the publication of controversial titles will not be a reflection of their values, but emphasized that some games “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,” the announcement states.
Valve will not be making “significant changes” to what’s on their store until they’ve finished building the aforementioned tools for users and developers.