Steam has some issues. Valve says it’s working on fixing them, and as part of a progress update today, it finally took aim at the biggest one of all: Naz—I mean, constant age gates that never stop popping up no matter how many times you assure Steam you’re not two years old.
The good news is, Valve hates them too.
“We’re with you on this,” the company said in response to its own faux-irritated question about age gates. “Unfortunately, many rating agencies have rules that stipulate that we cannot save your age for longer than a single browsing session. It’s frustrating, but know we’re filling out those age gates too.”
Probably not the answer you were hoping to hear, but it seems like those dang gates aren’t going anywhere for now.
Valve also said in the post that it’s continuing to give users more tools to filter mature content. In addition to gore and nudity filters, there’s now a general mature content filter, as well as another aimed specifically at adults-only games, movies, and productivity software (???) that includes “explicit sexual content.”
Developers of games with violent or sexual content will also be required to write brief messages describing the exact nature of that content in their games, which will then appear alongside content warnings. Still no word, however, on whether or not these games will be allowed on Steam fully uncensored when all is said and done.
Lastly, Valve took some time to address a frequent concern: when it says that—as part of its controversial new anything-goes policy—games that are “outright trolling” aren’t allowed on Steam, what the heck does it actually mean? Valve said the rule is purposefully vague because “trolls come in all forms.” Some are running scams, others are trying to “incite and sow discord.”
The tie that binds them together and makes them worthy of the boot, Valve said, is that they “aren’t actually interested in good faith efforts to make and sell games to you or anyone.”
Valve also gave a quick rundown of its troll investigation process. “We investigate who this developer is, what they’ve done in the past, their behaviour on Steam as a developer, as a customer, their banking information, developers they associate with, and more,” Valve wrote.
“All of this is done to answer the question ‘who are we partnering with and why do they want to sell this game?’ We get as much context around the creation and creator of the game and then make an assessment.”
The endlessly trundling Steam engine said that process has resulted in many scenarios in which it bans people, rather than individual games. “A trend we’re seeing is that we often ban these people from Steam altogether instead of cherry-picking through their individual game submissions. In the words of someone here in the office: ‘it really does seem like bad games are made by bad people.’”
That’s quite a value judgement to just toss out there—one that sure does seem like it could reinforce the adversarial (and sometimes outright abusive) relationship Steam users have with game developers. But at least when users are hurling insults at developers en masse, we’ll know they’re not literal toddlers. Or at least, that they’re toddlers smart enough to fool age gates.