Valve, makers of the game-selling platform Steam, have decided to allow creators to sell every kind of game one can imagine on its service. After several cases of consumer and developer backlash regarding controversial games, Valve found itself in an awkward position to clarify exactly what sort of game is appropriate to sell on Steam. In a recent official statement, Valve has declared that everything, as long as it's not outright illegal, will now be fair game for Steam.
The statement was made on the Steam Blog. In it, Valve writes that previous difficulties about certain games being removed and others staying longer than they deserved was the result of human error. "Contrary to many assumptions, this isn't a space we've automated - humans at Valve are very involved," the post assures. Due to the fact that this was all done by people, it resulted in long response times and confusion over what exactly Valve would and wouldn't allow on Steam.
With that being the case, Valve was forced to go back to its core beliefs. "Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this. If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make."
In light of that epiphany, Valve has decided to let every game be on Steam "except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling." The effort that used to be spent on policing content will now go into delivering better management tools for player and developer alike. If a player doesn't want to see overly-violent or anime rip-off games, they will be able to hide them from their recommended list.
This openness represents a notable shift in a year when several video games have been deemed too controversial to sell. Just recently, Valve pulled a game about mass shootings from its platform after the families of shooting victims spoke out. Intimate relations in video games has also been a problem. Super Seducer, a game criticized for its attitudes towards women, ultimately stayed on Steam but was pulled from the PlayStation store.
But even Valve knows there is no unified right answer. It admits that honing the consumers' new management tools will take time, and that players will still see be exposed to things they don't like. Developers also have be careful, as Valve makes it clear that this policy change isn't an endorsement to make the most offensive thing possible. Things will still be messy, and the rules will probably change on the fly. That's just the price one pays for freedom.