Explicit Sex Games Keep Getting Onto Steam [NSFW]

The Suffering Of Larina.

If at any given moment you visit the Steam store's front page, there's a strong chance you'll get an eyeful of exposed skin from some lewd adventure or action game's listing. Steam doesn't allow pornographic games, but in the Steam Direct era, they keep appearing on Valve's service anyway — until they're taken down, that is.

Steam's rules prohibit porn, but earlier this year, a game called House Party — about whipping your dick out, getting people to strip, and starting fights (sometimes by whipping your dick out) — appeared on Steam containing depictions of full-frontal nudity and sex. You could even jerk yourself off in front of people, if you wanted.

After this was brought to Valve's attention, the game was temporarily yanked from Steam, with Valve asking the developer Eek to censor or remove the explicit parts before it could be re-uploaded.

At the time, Eek criticised Valve for what he saw as a double standard: "There are many games with nudity, and there are also games with sex scenes as well, including really popular titles, so it's all rather confusing and I don't know exactly where the line is."

Nobody seems to know where the line is, but in House Party's wake, several more games have definitely crossed it. Other games like visual novel The Suffering of Larina, risque fantasy game Valortha, and "erotic thriller" Strangers In A Strange Land pulled off similar feats, showing up on Steam with exposed genitalia and full-on sex scenes before being removed. Sometimes, the game's developers censor the naughty bits and re-upload the games, but sometimes they stay down for good.

Image: Strangers In A Strange Land.

You're probably wondering how this keeps happening. Well, despite being in charge of the biggest PC game store in the world, Valve runs a pretty loose operation when it comes to selecting which games will appear on its platform.

Earlier this year, the company wound down its Steam Greenlight service that let users vote on which games they wanted to see appear on Steam, replacing it with Steam Direct. This allows anybody to submit a game to the store if they pony up $US100 ($130).

Valve checks the game out to make sure it maintains a baseline of functionality, but it seems to be an extremely low bar. So while Valve technically doesn't allow explicit pornography, there did not seem to be any checks to prevent it: Many games have been posted, then taken down, rather than prevented from going up in the first place.

Despite how at-odds with Steam's guidelines these games might seem, the developers' presence on the Internet exists primarily, sometimes entirely, within Steam's ecosystem. Take Ryuvscloud, the developer of the aforementioned Valortha, as well as similar, albeit less gratuitous games like Sayaka and Himiko.

Ryuvscloud does not appear to have a web presence outside a private Steam account that lists no contact information. Moreover, it doesn't seem too interested in the fate of its games: After some were removed, the studio's Steam forums were full of confusion about what happened and if the games would be coming back. Ryuvscloud never made a peep.

The Suffering of Larina.

Larina's developer SexuaDarka takes a similar approach. When the game, which is a visual novel story with a thin plot about thievery that's a setup for some very aggressive and extremely explicit sex scenes, was removed from Steam, the studio didn't patch it, and just released a new, similarly explicit, game a month later.

The developer behind Strangers In A Strange Land, a point-and-click adventure set on a farm where strange things (and also sex) are happening, does have a Patreon, but otherwise makes itself difficult to contact directly.

It's hard not to wonder whether these developers are intentionally breaking the rules, knowing their games will be removed. On one hand, having your games removed from Steam doesn't seem like an amazing business strategy, but on the other, the prestige of being on Steam even for a brief moment draws attention to these developers, whose games would otherwise just be one of many porn games available on platforms that allow them.

Games don't get much time front-and-center on Steam anyway, so it's not that bad of a trade-off when you consider that Larina managed to stay on Steam for nearly a month, and Valortha didn't get removed until it'd be available for nearly eight months.

Evidence seems to speak to the idea that developers like SexuaDarka at least understand that their actions might have consequences. One month after releasing Larina, SexuaDarka launched an extremely similar game called Kayalina, which was also removed from Steam shortly after its launch.

A thread in Kayalina's Steam forum titled "this guy again :3" contains responses from a handful of people saying they will buy it because they liked Larina so much. Perhaps this is the plan — leave the last game down, but put up another game knowing that fans will rush to buy it before it disappears.

Strangers In a Strange Land was re-uploaded to Steam with censorship, as seen above.

Some porn games have tried a different tack: Put uncensored game on Steam, wait for it to be taken down, re-upload a version that censors all of the explicit content, and then provide a link in a Steam news update to an "uncensor patch" that removes the censorship.

As of this week, though, it seems like that's no longer allowed. Dharker Studio, developer of a sexy visual novel called Galaxy Girls, claimed in a forum post on Sunday that "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".

Dharker added that it would be updating its own, non-Steam website with information on how to download an uncensor patch. Dharker Studio did not reply to our request for further comment.

Since then, multiple other developers, including visual novel powerhouse MangaGamer, have chimed in with similar claims. Speaking with a website called LewdGamer, MangaGamer said it received a notice from Valve instructing it to remove all mentions of uncensor patches from its games' pages on October 27.

That came as a surprise in light of a discussion the publisher had with Valve in late April, in which Valve apparently said uncensor patches were OK.

"Valve has not yet given us a reason why this policy has changed," said MangaGamer's PR director and head translator John Pickett.

Valve did not respond to Kotaku's repeated requests for comment and clarification on this matter.

Image: Ladykiller In A Bind.

Valve and uncertainty go hand in hand, and this is just the latest example of the trend. Triple-A games like The Witcher 3 get a pass on full-frontal nudity and sex scenes. There have been a handful of Valve-approved uncensored sex games on Steam since the end of 2015, like visual novel Kindred Spirits On The Roof and BDSM sex comedy Ladykiller In A Bind.

The former did not depict genitalia, but the latter did. Meanwhile, games like the notoriously raunchy HuniePop series display bare breasts, but characters still wear underwear that can only be removed via uncensor patches.

R-rated content, then, seems to be acceptable in some situations, but genitalia and sex scenes don't fly… except when they do, as in Ladykiller's case. Valve has never stated where it draws the line outright, leaving developers in the dark.

In addition, games that use sex to make headier points about identity and culture — Robert Yang's dick pic game Cobra Club, for example — have had difficulty getting through Steam's front door, even though they use genitalia to make a point, rather than being explicitly pornographic. It's worth noting that, as Kotaku columnist Amanda Cosmos once pointed out, Valve seems especially "dick averse."

It's confusing for developers and Steam users alike, but for the time being, it seems like Valve's gonna Valve. At least that will never change.


Comments

    I don't see a problom with Steam having sexually esplisit games. The problem is kids lieing on things to see what it is when the shop says 'over 18' on the product. This could be easily remainder by having photo verification of some kind, that includes your drivers license (it has you DOB and a pic of you on it) then Valve could have a 'Red Light' section where ALL games that are rated as adult go, and only people with verified age accounts are able to see that section. This would remove any ability Valve would have, as anyone under the age of 18 would basically have committed fraud to get access to that section. I mean, its not like 12-13 year olds can't just look up 'boobys' or 'Dicks' on google to find what they want anyway.

      The problem isn't that really, it's that Valve doesn't want to lose their relationship with payment processors which could start cutting them off or charging extra fees because they're dealing in porn.

        Valve is that big though that it wouldn't be a very smart decision to loose such a big and profitable customer. Other institutions would be more than happy to pick it up.

          When you lose the major credit card processors and/or paypal there *is* no one else. They see that and all piss off too. That's actually a lot of the problem.

            So they won't do steam if adult games happen but will do porn sites. I fail to see the logic.
            Visa and the other are essentially a transfer protocol they don't issue cards money or anything like that. As far as actual financial institutions where the money goes I don't even want to guess how many there Are, millions?
            Seriously banks do all sorts of porn sites adult stores etc and you think adult games will have an impact?
            Prostitutes can use credit cards ffs.

            so paypal is fine with directly allowing u to pay for pornographic material but they wont allow it to go through other sites like steam, wow (yes ive paid for pornographic material with paypal plenty of times b4)

              It's not the fact it's porn that's the problem, it's the fact that porn tends to be much riskier. There's a higher chance of fraud, chargebacks and so on which means that the processing fees are higher and Paypal often refuses to take that risk, and will shut down access or just refuse to allow it in some cases (their Terms of Service has a specific clause for not having lots of chargebacks etc)

    I honestly don't see the problem, though it would make more sense if Steam would segregate them into an area so that every VN that has smut (w/ or w/out patch) in it doesn't end up on the front page.

    Im not having a good day with comments, however I will say that they should be allowed.... geeze every kid must know about porn on computers. and kids shouldnt be using a computer unsupervised anyway.... its like owning a gun or driving a car you just dont let kids do it.

      As someone who both owned a gun and a car at 13, i resent that comment.
      its all about education, i was taught at a very early age to respect guns and cars due to the danger they presented.

      I was able to pass my P's test with a score of like 99/100 just two weeks after passing my L written test as soon as i was of age, and i don't go around murdering people with guns.

      So i disagree, children should be given and taught about cars, guns and sex to ensure they have a healthy understanding from a younger age than they currently are taught.

        OK then lol, lets just all give the kids guns

        key word was "unsupervised" in my comment told ya i was having a bad day

          Wasn't having a go at you bud, just pointing out that with a little more education instead of knee jerk offensive reactions like most people seem to have at the idea of sex and violence the world would be a better place.

          Just look at the people who down-voted my comment above, i take from it that those people are against education and prefer the current social media trend of "unpopular opinions must be wrong" because that's what the world looks like these days, if you don't have someone to blame for everything or someone to ostracise how will you feel better about your petty offended views?

            I down voted because when I did my ps 20 years ago you couldn't do your test 2 weeks after getting you L's it was 3 months and 99? Points. It was pass or fail on sections. So no I didn't down vote you for a differing opinion I down voted because I don't believe you.

              Don't believe all you want, its still true.
              In Darwin NT, i completed my L written test the day after i Turned 16, then signed up for my P's test on the same day, the ONLY requirement for it back then was that you had to wait 2 weeks after getting your L's to be able to sit the P's Test.
              No idea what you are even referring too with the 99 points?
              Was the same with my bike licence, did the basic L course and then 2 weeks later the P's equivalent for bike.

                how many years ago was it because i had to wait 2 years until i was 18 after getting my l's b4 i could do the test for my p's (i live in Tasmania Australia btw)

                  I was talking 18 years ago, but as mentioned by others each state is always different.

              Different states have different rules and systems for licensing. Just because theirs is different to yours it doesn't mean they aren't telling the truth.

    I stopped reading this rubbish a few paragraphs in. House Party was not temporarily removed for containing nudity. It was removed for depictions of sexual assault and the distasteful portrayal of sex acts which included getting girls drunk and then having sex with them as well as randomly whipping your johnson out and ejaculating onto peoples faces. I mean the author even eluded to it themselves in saying "You could even jerk yourself off in front of people, if you wanted", but of course, excluded the facts so the story fits their own narrative.

    While scrolling down I saw Strangers in a Strange Land mentioned, which I assume Nathan Grayson also conveniently forgot to acknowledge, once depicted a minor engaging in sexual acts before being temporarily removed and patched out.

    10/10 Journalism Mr Grayson, quality stuff.

    Maybe Valve could just start a new service called "Hot and Steamy" to sell adult content!

    Not sure how relevant people think it is, but "To apply for a credit card you need to be at least 18 years old and have a good credit rating. You don't need to be an Australian citizen."

    If kids are buying these games, then the parent is the one buying it for them..surely the little rascals aren't just using the cards without parental permission?

      You can also pay by PayPal - which can use a bank account instead of a credit card.

      i mean that is something i would of done to get my hands on pornographic material b4 i turned 18, i mean i know i did allot of things to get what was illegal for minors to have b4 i turned 18, porn cigarettes even the occasional weed when it was given to me for free but my point is if u tell someone they want then that most likely means they will want it more and try to get it no matter what especially minors

    I will just never understand why sex is somehow worse than violence.

      I think the problem is that the games often include sexist, sexual violence and other abhorrent content that is questionable.

      i know right, sex is a natural thing, we do it for pleasure and to make babies to further our race, its only a bad thing when u mix violence into it, education on these things is what is needed, hell if i had been told about sexual things at a young age properly i wouldn't of made some questionable mistakes i did at that young age but i own my mistakes they are what educated me on the subject even though they were wrong

      Blame religion and capitalism.

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