Valve Removes Rape Day From Steam With Vague, Nonsensical Statement

Yesterday, Rape Day, a self-described “game where you can rape and murder during a zombie apocalypse,” raised new questions about Steam’s laissez-faire release policy. Today, Valve elected to remove it from the store.

In a post on Steam, Valve attempted to explain its decision-making around Rape Day, a game that did not cross Valve’s no-go line of “illegal, or straight up trolling,” but was nonetheless tremendously messed up, drawing widespread ire from Steam users.

“Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct,” Valve’s Erik Johnson wrote. “We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think Rape Day poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.”

Johnson went on to say that Valve wants to help facilitate developers expressing themselves and finding an audience, but “this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.”

It’s unclear what any of that means, or how hard-nosed fact-finding resulted in “unknown costs and risks.” Why won’t Valve talk specifically about what they found objectionable here? Was it the sexual violence, or merely the specific and cavalier way the sexual violence was presented? Something else? Valve’s stance on sex games continues to be unclear, and while sexual violence seems a clear line to draw, a little transparency could go a long way. It’s good that Rape Day got the boot, but Valve’s release policy continues to be a mess.


Comments

    Honestly, they were pushing boundaries just calling the game Rape Day.
    Now it is even possible they might start a campaign against Valve because of this.

    They wasted all that time developing a game like this as well. It seems... like a stupid mistake.

      Om the other hand, this game is now well known, and people still wanting to get it most likely will go to the Devs own site. So, not really a wast.

    I like how Grayson can report on Steam removing "Rape Day" and still put a negative slant on it.

      Because the game shouldn't have been there in the first place?

        True but the article has an undertone like he's upset that Valve offered an odd answer for its removal, as opposed to saying "It got removed because it's awful, good." He seems to link it to other sex games despite admitting that it's good it was removed and he clearly knows it's worlds apart from (I guess) 'sex positive' games.

        That would involve steam reviewing games up front. Where as they clearly state (rightly or wrongly) that they prefer a reactionary measure. Ie, removing games that cause a stink in the court of public opinion. If a game suddenly grabs a lot of media and public outcry, there's a good chance that game has overstepped a mark at some point. And they can then check, if it's not mass hysteria and if agree that game is crossing a line. Then remove it.

        The reason it was removed is the high chance of offence it would cause, and the fact they didn't even try and dress it up as artistic or not the main focus of their game.

        It would be more useful if you could use your knowledge of the way this industry works to explain that the reason Valve won't say "we removed it for the bits where specifically X Y an Z happened" is that the immediately a bunch of "anti-censorship" gamers will start tweeting about how:

        1) Whatever Valve said was in the game is misinterpreted somehow.

        2) They should be allowed to decide what to play as adults.

        3) Muh censorships!

        Valve probably had a crisis meeting: "Okay so we messed up and somehow a game literally called Rape Day got released. Obviously we're going to remove it but how can we ensure it doesn't become a cause celebre for the vocal minority who think they should be allowed to consume whatever hateful crap they want because the think they are 'adults' or whatever?"

        Their answer: remove the game and release a statement about gosh wow guys isn't games publishing hard we really want to help developers, bless!

        Maybe you could specifically state what Valve should have done. Maybe YOU could set the rules for this kind of thing.

        Don't forget to be super clear about where the line is on this as well. Is it just putting "rape" on the cover? Is it "rape mode"? Are games that let you exploit open-world mechanics to sort-of-rape NPCs (GTA rob-your-hooker style) okay? What about games where you can manipulate NPCs into sex, including characters who are sort-of a bit reluctant, like Mass Effect? What power balance between characters? Blah blah blah...

          This seems like a dig at me - I think? - but to take you seriously for a second:

          - Valve's communication is piss poor, and has always been, even for developers on their platform;
          - Allowing content that violates several laws in multiple territories (in this case, the visual or implied depiction of sexual violence, or the assumption that the game would in all likelihood feature that) poses a genuine legal risk for Steam, and therefore a business risk;
          - Censorship is a garbage argument - Steam is a private platform, which is bound by the rules of the territories it operates in. If the makers want to publish that content elsewhere, where it's more natively housed and accepted, they can do so. Valve doesn't let games self publish out of some kind of free speech argument - they only do so because it's financially beneficial and because it's easier to manage than manually curating everything. This isn't a censorship problem, it's capitalism hiding under the guise of an open platform, which Steam isn't and has never been by any stretch of the imagination.

          Steam lets stuff through because it makes them money, and people confuse that by thinking they have a right to publish whatever they want, which in reality was never there, even if that wasn't codified in Steam's terms of service or other associated rules.

            "Steam lets stuff through because it makes them money, and people confuse that by thinking they have a right to publish whatever they want, which in reality was never there"

            And that statement is exactly the answer to the question about Valve's policy on sex games. If it doesn't attract or hold a risk of attracting blanket negative media about Steam or if there is limited public outcry then they leave it be. But it publishing that game has the potential to damage revenue (eg. Rape Day, Active Shooter etc), then of course it has to go. Surely this is obvious?!

            Well it is a censorship problem in a way since Valve is based in the US and it's a big concept that's deeply ingrained in their society. So if they pull a game and the *perceived* reason is censorship then people will get up in arms as a result. Doesn't matter whether it's a private platform or not, people still view it as censorship.

            Anyway, I'm torn on this issue. I don't think the game should be sold based on the description of it. BUT it raises the question of when does a criminal action in a game become offensive enough to pull the game? I mean there are tons of games where you outright murder people (and I'm not even talking about CoD or Battlefield). Murder is one of the most heinous acts possible but it's gets a pass. As does robbery and arson and a bunch of other criminal acts in games.

            So if you try to set out a rule to block a game like Rape Day, you need to think of the consequences. What other games would the rule catch? Would there suddenly be no Watchdogs, or GTA or Carmageddon or Hitman?

            I'm honestly leaning towards just let them release it as 18+ restricted. Though, I suspect it'd be a no-go in Aus anyway since our Government has a strong stance on sexualized violence. At which point Valve can just shrug and say "Government says no" in a Little Britain voice.

              The company is based in the US but it's an global platform - it's the laws of every country it operates in, not just the US. If that wasn't the case, then the ACCC wouldn't have won their consumer rights suit.

              But addressing the slippery slope thing: there's no reason to think that GTA, Carmageddon, Hitman or Watch Dogs would be at any real risk. Those games are not in the same territory as something that advertises - almost openly advocates - sexual violence, which is a hard red line for basically every Western society.

            Thanks for agreeing with me!

            This is a better and more informative response than "the game shouldn't have been there in the first place".

            As you say: Valve doesn't care about whether the content they're selling is "bad" (whether that's defined as offensive, illegal, or just plain crap). They only care about whether there'll be a huge backlash.

            But it doesn't matter that "muh censorships!" IS a garbage argument (and yeah, I agree it is), the fact that people use it causes companies like Valve problems they want to avoid.

            Valve pulled the game. Okay, that's established.

            The question is: why didn't they say "we pulled this because it's disgusting and we apologise for letting a rape simulator get up there we will improve our systems etc"?

            And the answer is: because saying that invites an entire other backlash from hideous people (not to mention the legal ramifications of admitting they were responsible for letting content that may have caused people distress, and which as you point out broke laws in various jurisdictions etc, get auto-published)

            They had to be non-committal because as Steam, if they say anything definite, it opens them to attack. Hell, even being non-committal opened them to attack.

            I'm not saying it's the right or best way to behave. It's not good corporate citizenship. It's craven, absolutely, and if they took their licks from the creepoids a few times, they'd get a rep for being upstanding and moral...

            ...and then Kotaku would run an expose on how Valve is policing morality and telling adults what's offensive and what isn't and people should be allowed to choose what they play etc.

              The question is: why didn't they say "we pulled this because it's disgusting and we apologise for letting a rape simulator get up there we will improve our systems etc"?

              While I obviously can't speak for others, I'm certain this was exactly what Nathan (and most people) have been getting at. It wouldn't have been controversial to put out a more blunt statement saying "this isn't OK". (Also, I can't remember in recent times any instance of any US, UK or local authors having a go at a platform for enforcing standards - the problem is more that they haven't enforced *any* standards, or have refused to provide proper clarity on what their standards actually are, which just creates confusion and instability for everyone).

        When you jump in Alex it's always for the author. Do you ever disagree with kotaku?

          I can have my own views, but let's run with your initial question because I like engaging with everyone and it's better that we have chats in good faith than, well, the level of discourse we see elsewhere.

          I actually opted to not cover this topic originally (this was Monday), because it was my personal belief that games like this were better not being covered at all - but the US took a different view and opted to write about it in a way that highlights the questions that it puts on Steam.

          So, in a way, that's a disagreement for you if you like. Also we had a chat not that long ago about the framing of a particular headline - a Gita Apex article, I believe - but I wouldn't call that a disagreement, as much as it was pointing out people not actually reading the article. Which happens all the time, everywhere.

          I think it's also fair to call Steam out for the loopholes and vagueness in their own policies. Remember, this is a situation they created when they throttled Greenlight and just let everything self-publish - and a situation they made more complicated when they started putting more boundaries on what they deemed was and wasn't OK (which confused a lot of devs of sex games).

          It's not just that the game has been removed - that's fine and obviously the right thing to do. But the way Valve has framed it is incredibly strange - what's the "unknown" costs we're talking about here, legal, moral? - and it is 1000% our job as part of the press to ask what that means.

            Also keep in mind that it goes beyond just this game, Steam or Valve. There are about a dozen mega platforms now that host the majority of content we engage with and their policies are all out of line with their size. Deflecting accountability and only stepping in when things get too close to the spotlight is the standard operating procedure.

            I understand why Valve won't commit to lines in the sand but it ends with systems where the only way to exist is to be on these mega platforms while knowing full well that there are no rules you can follow to protect yourself from being caught in the crossfire.

            Ultimately it's self destructive because while platforms like YouTube focus entirely on taking on as much content as they can get their hands on they walk into avoidable controversies that hurt everyone's ability to make money on the platform.

            I suspect their "unknown costs" refers to potential legal costs. That seems most likely. But it could also refer to lost sales and the cost to valve of boycotts.

            As for;
            Johnson went on to say that Valve wants to help facilitate developers expressing themselves and finding an audience, but “this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that.”
            I feel like that's Valve's way of covering their arses. If you read between the lines it's basically "We want to help developers, but these guys are making stuff that's horrible and we don't like it. So we don't want to help them and we're not gonna."

            But they can't just say that in plain English, they need to be "tactful".

          Contract would say no. lol

          (note: Oh look, I'm "under moderation" for a joke... again. Shadowban much?)

        Saying the game should not have been there in the first place is a bit of a misjudgment due to a thing in the USA called free speech. As Valve said, it does not come down to legal anything, so really. Whether you call Valve pulling it a good or bad thing depends on how you look at it. Valve taking it down is not something I agree with, but I do understand given what the game is about. However, free speech in the USA clearly outlines that this kind of game is fine, and people then have the choice, or freedom of there own speech, to play or not play it, as well as complain about it.

          1. Freedom of speech has zero bearing on private platforms.

          2. Even if it did have something to do with freedom of speech (which it 100% does not), free speech is only nominally free. You are not free to say a great many things.

          3. Even if this did fall under protected freedom of expression (and a court would likely deem it offensive and therefore not protected), this is a commercial product, not a private expression of opinion, which means it is subject to much stricter laws and this would almost certainly fall afoul of them.

            1. It does. I mean, its an intrinsic value of the USA. One of the founding ideals. Why, legally, it does not matter when it comes to privet companies, it does matter on a social and trust level. To brush it off as 'there a company so they don't count' I think is to ignore the other factors and is just a bit naive. Big companies should be held to the same standards as a government when it comes to freedom of expression in any form. Especially global companies.

            2. Um.... no, you are free to say anything you want. Some things have consequences, sure, but it's not stopping anyone from saying anything.

            3. Do you really think Valve would have let it up if it did not come under said laws? Valve has made it very clear that the game did not break any laws or any of there own policies, so I think your 3rd point is invalid to an extent.

            As for a judge, that's very subjective I think. Laws are laws, and the Judge's job is to interpret the laws to the best of there ability, within the confines of what the law stipulates, so even if a judge thinks it's reprehensible, they would still have to follow the law.

              1. The fact that you think companies are beholden to the same laws as private citizens is the naive thing, here. You can argue that free speech should be mandated, but that denies the freedom to have the things you want in your own house. If I don't want a product sold by a nazi on my store shelf, you can bet your life I won't be selling it. It's that simple. Your right to see a thing doesn't outweigh my right to decide what business I conduct in my own business.
              2. It is illegal to incite violence. It is illegal to lie about an emergency. It is illegal to say untrue things about a person that could damage their livelihood. Freedom of speech is not absolute and the fact that you think it is when this isn't even hard to research is baffling.
              3. Do you think Valve look at stuff before games go up on their store? They are infamously hands off and these things go up using automated systems. This is so well documented I am starting to worry you're a troll and I'm wasting my time. Also, how is it clear it didn't break any laws? It hasn't been tested in court and there are obscenity and incitement to violence laws that this may well transgress. It varies state by state in the US. It depends on the type of media. It depends on so many factors that I don't get how you think this is so cut and dry.
              Um... yes. That's what a judge does. Interpret those laws that you somehow think don't exist even though they very clearly do.

                1. .... I did not say company WHERE beholden, I said they SHOULD be. As in, you know, they're not but people should make an effort so they become that way.

                2. Yes, those things are illegal. However, that does not stop people from actually doing it. Laws are a reaction, a consequence, of what people do. They do not stop people from saying things, just as laws against murder do not stop people from being murdered or anti-drug laws stopping people from taking drugs.

                3. Yes, it's well known they are hands-off, but, given that they do not let things that are outright illegal or, as they put it, 'trolling' on Steam, that indicates that they do have some kind of process that stops those things from getting on Steam. Whether that be automatic or someone giving it the briefest of looks, who knows, but it means that something or someone at Valve IS looking at things before they go up, an, therefore, someone is to some degree responsible for that process.

                As to whether or not the game does or does not break laws, as you said, it has yet to be tested in a court. However, given what I said above, Valve did think it was legally fine from where they as a distributor stood.

                As to your last bit on the judge... Wired flex, but ok.

          "Free speech" means that the government can't prosecute you for expressing it. As a private platform, Steam is under no obligation to publish this or anything else and fully reserves the right to pull it from distribution for any or no reason. The primary (only?) reason Steam publishes anything at all is to make money, and the primary (only?) reason to remove a game like this from their store is because an association with product like this is perceived to hurt their bottom line to whatever degree over whatever time period.

          This is not a "free speech" issue. At all.

            The problem that you and @pokedad miss is that while it's a private platform so technically free speech shouldn't matter, in reality it does. It so deeply ingrained in the psyche of a lot of Americans that they don't see that separation between private and public.

            As a result, if you pull a game from a platform for what the public *perceive* as censorship you're going to face a backlash from the US public (at least some portion of it). That backlash can and often does have a real financial cost associated with it for the company being targeted.

            @Pokedad: I'm also not sure that it matters as much as you think because it's a commercial product either. There is a ton of commercial content *koff* Porn *koff* that's offensive but still protected as art and covered by free speech.

            And for the record, I support a companies right to pull a product they don't like. But then I'm an Aussie not an American...

              People being ignorant of the law doesn't change the law. It doesn't matter what people think if this is a matter of legality. The question being posed here is "Is this censorship?" and the answer is unequivocally no.

              It might cost valve money, it might make people mad at them, but that's a matter of marketing, not statute. Think of Steam as a brick and mortar shop. If they want to put The Anarchist's Cookbook on the shelf, they may or may not be legally allowed based on a very complicated set of intersecting laws. But are they compelled to sell it if some dude comes in and says "I want to sell my book in your shop"? Fuck no. That's Gabe's House of Junk and Gabe doesn't like selling instruction books on at home bomb making. That's about as simple as it gets. His shop. He decides what he sells.

              As far as the porn vs art point goes, you're mixing up the definition of "offensive" in colloquial and legal contexts. The word has a specific meaning in legal situations and most kinds of pornography have been tested legally and been found not offensive. Animal porn? Tested and found to be offensive in most American states (there are one or two that last I heard it was legal). Child porn? Tested. Illegal. Offensive. Porn of people eating shit? Tested. Legal.

                Of course it matters. It doesn't matter if it's not the law because people who are offended will refuse to buy stuff from them. It equals lost sales. Just look at the number of companies that pull advertising from celebs when they do something bad (not illegal just "bad") like having an affair. Legality has no bearing on profit.

                I'm honestly not sure how you got onto the idea that it not being statute matters. As you pointed out we're talking about a company not the government.

                  I got onto it as a direct response. As I said, people being ignorant of the law doesn't change it. I understand and even said that it might cost valve money, but that's a different issue, even if the buying public are too stupid to differentiate the two.

          However, free speech in the USA clearly outlines that this kind of game is fine, and people then have the choice, or freedom of there own speech, to play or not play it, as well as complain about it.

          1st Amendment:

          Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

          Freedom of speech in America means the government cannot pass laws that limit your freedom of speech. Private companies can however as they are not a government institution.

          Lot of people love to scream "FREEDOM OF SPEECH" yet don't understand what it actually entails. Freedom of speech does not give you the right to say whatever you want wherever you want.

          “Saying the game should not have been there in the first place is a bit of a misjudgment due to a thing in the USA called free speech”

          Oops, I see the confusion.

          Free speech doesn’t mean that everything SHOULD be said.

          Free speech doesn’t mean people aren’t allowed to say you shouldn’t do something.

          Free speech doesn’t mean people can’t criticize something that exists.

          Free speech doesn’t mean you have to support the existence of everything. It’s the opposite.

          ...Completely aside from the fact that this is a private platform. Free speech doesn’t mean I can walk into your house and you’re not allowed to stop me.

          I thought this was really simple.

            Free speech doesn’t mean that everything SHOULD be said.
            Quite right. It means anything CAN be said. There are laws that punish you for saying certain things, but there is nothing stopping you. At least not yet.

            Free speech doesn’t mean people aren’t allowed to say you shouldn’t do something.
            And yet there are people doing that every day on the radio, TV, the internet, in newspapers and on the street. Just because something is not allowed dose, not people will still try an do it.

            Free speech doesn’t mean people can’t criticize something that exists.

            It also means doesn't mean you can't be criticized for your criticism. Like, come on. Don't be obtuse.

            Free speech doesn’t mean you have to support the existence of everything. It’s the opposite.
            No, but it dose mean you have to support there right to say it. That's the whole point of Freedom Of Speech. Its there so everyone can have a say in the discussion, no matter their opinion.

            ...Completely aside from the fact that this is a private platform. Free speech doesn’t mean I can walk into your house and you’re not allowed to stop me.
            That would be breaking an entering and has nothing to do with Free Speech at all. I do get what you're saying though, and I am in agreement. A company has the freedom to sell what they like.

            My issue, I guess, is that Steam along with Facebook and Youtube, are not JUST companies any more. Facebook has replaced mail and email, Youtube is replacing TV. Steam, in the saim vain, has become THE place to shop for video games and computer software. Their monopoly on their respective marketplaces makes them bigger than JUST a company, as far as I am concerned, especially when they're on a global scale. I don't see Valve and Steam as 'just' anything. There bigger than that. There a leading GLOBAL market place, and because of they're ahead of everyone else, we as consumers need to hold them up to the stands or something like that.

            I thought this was really simple.
            Nothing is ever THAT simple. :P

        Yeah, I'm not defending this 'game'... But by your logic if they denied every game that someone deemed "should not be there" there would basically be no games on the platform.

          There is a complex legal framework around this and you've simplified the "logic" behind it to the point of misrepresenting it.

          We can't tell for sure if this game is actually illegal in any particular US state, though I would say several would deem it offensive and ban the sale. Australia certainly would because we have laws surrounding sexual violence in media.

          This is not about free speech. This is about a company choosing which products it sells.

      Valve's messaging around what is and isn't allowed on their platform being insanely inconsistent is a constant theme, and it's not wrong to highlight that fact. Removing this game actually goes against their stated content policy.

        Basically they should just have a policy that says "We reserve the right to choose which products we stock in our store."

        Because they have that right. If they don't want porn games, they don't have to. If they do, then fine. If they do want this particular porn game, but think that other one is a bit much? Cool. Their house, their rules.

          While I agree with you, the problem is it opens a can of worms and it's a huge crapshoot for devs if the rules aren't set out clearly beforehand. If I was developing a game I'd like to know that the platform I'm partnering with (ie: Steam) is actually going to release the game. Lets say you make a game that's a bit offensive but not outright horrid (like Leisure Suit Larry or a T&A fighting game like DOA). You'd want to know whether it's going to need tweaking as early as possible, not *after* you finish the game and try to sell it.

          There are also costs associated with NOT selling something as well. Especially now with more distribution platforms becoming available. If you block a game you potentially alienate fans*. If you annoy them enough they boycott your product and buy from someone else instead.

          * While you might say losing a fan of "Rape Day" may not be a big deal, what if they also regularly buy CoD games, and blow a bunch of money on other mainstream steam games?

            This. If you're going to have a content policy you need to actually define what is and isn't acceptable. There needs to be proper guidelines, you can't just go by "we'll know it when we see it".

              I agree, but Valve are incredibly vague to start with, so it would only make things easier for them and make basically no change to developers.

              If I were making a game, I wouldn't spend 2 years on it and then hope someone might stock my product. I'd have an actually functioning business that talks to potential stockists and makes sure I actually have a place to sell my product before it was finished and ready to go. It's not Valve's fault that some dude spends 6 years of his life making a secret game and then gets mad when he comes out of nowhere and demands to have it put up on a marketplace.
              I mean, this is super basic stuff. Talk to the shopkeeper and ask them if they want to sell your product.

                This is true, but Valve are also notorious for changing their stance completely depending on who you talk to inside the company, flip-flopping all over the place, pulling stuff without notice because it offended some rule they just made up, and generally being impossible to actually get in communication with.

                I've seen lots of instances where developers had games that were approved via Greenlight or something else, only to have Valve just up and change their mind. Stuff that was completely fine one week, that the developer deliberately worked with Valve to keep within their nebulous guidelines, and then suddenly got pulled from sale anyway.

                They're generally a pretty terrible company to work with if you're not a AAA publisher making the latest Open World Survival Battle Royale FPS or something. Even getting a human to respond to you rather than an algorithm sending a form letter seems to be an epic achievement.

                I think we're all arguing around the same point. Namely that Valve (and by extension other distributors) should be more transparent about their rules. Having a vague "stuff we find offensive" type rule doesn't really benefit anyone other than Valve. Certainly it doesn't benefit players or developers.

        "Illegal and trolling" were their stated limits. I imagine some countries might argue this could have been considered incitement towards sexual violence... but let's focus on the second one.

        "LOL rape in the title, and rape is the objective! Plus zombies, because people like zombies!" shovelware aimed at 8channers to trigger EsJayW's. Is there a word for that, besides trolling?

        Last edited 07/03/19 9:27 pm

          "Trolling" in their case was really meaning that they wanted to crack down on asset flips and stuff.

          And if you're going to draw that sort of line re: illegal, murder is also illegal in most countries. "Illegal" in Valve's statement was more along the lines of "illegal for us to host it" i.e. they're not going to let you post a child porn game.

          TBH I think they made the right decision here - this game should probably not exist at all, let alone be sold on Steam - but that's not really what people are arguing about.

            They're doing a pretty piss poor job with asset flips, then. I keep getting "this has been recommended because it's new" clones showing up.

              The thing is they don't block them *before* being published. They wait until it's up and been flagged as a crap. Then they take it down (hopefully).

    The game looks like hot garbage & with a title like that you can tell the devs knew exactly what they were doing.

      Yep.. which pretty much fits the "straight up trolling" aspect. This one was a no brainer, I am surprised it got this far.

        I was actually thinking this. I feel like they could have just banned it for that reason.

    I honestly feel valve actually did a good job of explaining themselves and their thinking in this case.

      Yep, I fail to understand what the author finds so confusing. It just reads as someone who has an issue with Valve and will find fault regardless.

        It's not a Nathan Grayson article if it's not painting Valve/Steam in a negative light.

    "You sleep with dogs, you get fleas".

    Valve has to be very careful about what publishers and the paying public think of the platform.
    The last thing valve needs, in the face of increasingly stiff competition, is for this kind of trash to drag down the image of the platform.

    As for the dev's, they're free to launch their game on another platform or even privately if they choose. Valve doesn't owe anyone a platform.

      I'm a little surprised they haven't spun off an adult Steam (Steamier?) that just focuses on adult content. It could use the same core tech but be entirely dedicated to adult content ie: porn games and stuff that would be objectionable on regular Steam.

      They could run it through a subsidiary to try to keep it from "tarnishing" the Valve name and reputation.

        They kind of have tho. Anyone above 18 can access adult games on Steam.

          Sure, but I mean they could spin it off to remove the negative association with Steam altogether. Steam could be a nice playground for G - M games so there is no parental outrage when kids get games from it. "Steamier" is for the rest of the games and it's 18+.

          Like @NegativeZero points out though, it is possible that it would have other ramifications.

        The problem with doing this is payment processors. You go adults-only and suddenly all your transactions are "high risk" and attract extra fees, and some middle-man processors eg PayPal can even cut you off completely. China is also exerting a lot of pressure recently on companies distributing pornography, including going after the payment chain, and a lot of Chinese companies own stakes in the games market. Valve is in bed with Perfect World to develop "Steam for China" at the moment for example, so operating an actual 'adult steam' would likely encounter a ton of pressure back on them.

          The China situation would be a good reason to actually do it. Essentially Steam becomes "safe" in China and "Steamier" is not available.

            That'd be a logical take, but the Chinese government isn't exactly logical when it comes to making sure that everyone is kept away from content they don't approve of.

    I’m confused why did they even have to justify why they removed it? It pretty damn obvious why it was removed. The only nonsense is the fact some people made a game from something like this and that some gamers are defending it.

    who would make such a thing... *sigh*

    Step 1: Create shitty game with offensive title
    Step 2: Get said shitty game kicked off popular store front
    Step 3: ???
    Step 4: Profit

      Self release it somewhere after every news article covered it and made people interested in a game they never would have seen otherwise

        But ask yourself: what kind of human being would buy this kind of game? The answer is the kind of human being who gets his kicks from materials relayed through obscure purveyors and networks.

        What I'm trying to say is that even without all this circus, most people who would have or will buy this game would have sooner or later heard about it in 4chan or similar places. On the other hand, removing it from the biggest videogame marketplace in the world greatly limits its exposure to people who normally wouldn't go out of their way to get this sort of entertainment.

          Exponentially more people are going to know about it now, and even if it was one person in a thousand that might have been interested. It's not like people have some kind of deviant filth-o-meter that immediately notifies them that a new bad game is available on one of their obscure providers of choice, they still have to find out about it somehow and they're much more likely to do so with everyone and their mum in the games media collectively condemning it.

          Plus the very act of restricting it or banning it will make it more interesting to a certain subset of people as well. It gains a certain mystique, and like a bad car crash it piques people's morbid curiosity. "How bad could it actually be?"

            Yeah, I can agree. But again, this will mostly increase the number of purchasers from among the (hopefully?) small target group that would be genuinely interested in this game plus a few curious edgelords, I guess? Seems to me a fair exchange to remove it from the sight of kids and teens randomly browsing Steam.

        You've got to remember that it's an openly low quality visual novel. I imagine most people who hear about this sort of game and want to try it are also pretty open to the idea of straight up pirating it.

        I'm sure the developer was attempting to do what you've said but I don't think it will actually play out that well. At this point even the morbidly curious crowds that normally try these high coverage games are figuring out that there's nothing to see here.

    I know the screenshots and synopsis make it come across as your typical "shock value" kind of game designed to cause controversy and appeal to the fetishists but I wonder what would happen if you kept the name and premise but made it an anti-rape statement. There are ways you could present this kind of scenario and still have it convey a message that rape and murder are bad things and you should be feeling disgust but would that make it acceptable?

    It kind of sounds like Valve is just distancing themselves from it because of public perception rather than it breaking particular content guidelines.

      The message is rather the point though, isn't it? If the work is presenting activity that is extremely illegal and extremely immoral and within the means of the average person -- then the question of whether it is actively encouraging said activity is quite important.

      No one really argues that certain content should be banned because "blood is icky". It's because they believe the content encourages antisocial activity.

    Just imagine how much simpler things would be if they could outsource content rating decisions to a government approved classification body?

    If the developer had a certification that the game was okay to sell, then Valve could sell it. If people had problems with the game, they could ask that classification body to review the decision.

      It's a bit of a pain in the arse though since the platform is worldwide so there'd be a ton of different bodies reviewing it (note: there already are!)

      The problem though, could be that the review body okays the game (god knows why but still) at which point do they still sell a game they don't want to be associated with?

        They could probably integrate IARC pretty easily: a self service survey system that can spit out classifications for the Australian Classification Board, ESRB, PEGI, etc. This is the primary system that drives ratings on Google Play, Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, and others.

        If the system is good enough for a company like Nintendo to rely on, then presumably there is enough control to screen out objectionable content. And there's no reason why Valve couldn't retain authority to manually review games on the store.

    I don't think this game should have been given any media coverage in the first place.

      As soon as i saw the article about it on Polygon i knew the game was obvious bait. And games media has fallen for it hook line and sinker.

      The game dev got free advertising and some journos got false sense of justice.

        Yep, and innocent, highly impressionable kids browsing the store for games will not stumble upon this filth, but who cares about that? In order to stop "outrage culture" and prevent these sick, sick, malevolent journalists to get their grubby hands on their coveted "virtue signaling" we all need to shut our mouths and look away while the comparatively lesser evils of glorifying rape, for example, continue to exist unchallenged.

          Games like this won't appear in the store unless your birthdate puts you above 18. Even once you are 18 you have to opt in for adult games to be shown.

          Try again.

            Lol what? Weren't you a teenager on the Internet at some point? Please do tell me that when a website or game asked you whether you were 18 you dutifully said "no" and clicked away. Please tell me that the fact that it asked you whether you were 18 did NOT increase your desire to see whatever it was on the other side of the "barrier". Or, more hilariously, that as an under-18 teen you went out of your way to place filters that would protect your chaste eyes from "adult" content.

            Funny how you want to delegate responsibility to horny teenagers while implying that the makers of the filth should not experience any kind of consequence.

              Pretty sure Steam has adult content controls so an adult could lock down and password protect the settings in the app (at least). I don't think parents should be just letting a kid go nuts on a computer installing whatever they want. There should be some degree of parental responsibility.

              As for the website, yeah it's a joke to bypass age checks there, but you still couldn't buy and play the game. So it's not that big an issue. Especially when you consider how easy it is to get random smut elsewhere on the web.

                Totally agree with the necessity for parent responsibility. However, I just don't trust there is much of that in the world? I think it's one few of the things I'm pessimistic about. I'm soon going to be the father of a boy and I'm really feeling the burden of responsibility of ensuring that the next generation would be one where sexual abuse is not normalised.

                  I don't think it ever should be normalised. It's a terrible thing, and despite what the media would have you believe the reality is rates are dropping in most of the developed world. We live in a far safer world now than ever before. But we also live in a world where media blasts us with horror stories to sell advertising.

                  As for the parenting side, I'd want to shield the kids while they're little but once they're a bit older let them know about it and educate them that it's just not acceptable. Parents who spend time and educate their kids make the best kids.

          People reporting it to Valve would have sufficed. You're kidding yourself if you think an article on Polygon or Kotaku was the cause of the game being removed.

            How not? You really think that Valve is going to get out of their way to do something that they clearly are by principle not very willing to do just because a handful of people reported them? Corporations only respond to money and customers = money. Any sort of action will only come after you have accrued a critical enough mass of customers whose unhappiness would put a noticeable dent on profits.

      Honestly I suspect that getting a ton of free publicity by getting free media coverage was their plan all along. There was literally no downside for them doing this - there would be an outcry no matter what Valve did. Same thing as that one a while back with super over the top violence.

    It disturbs me that people want to mainstream stupid stuff like this. It really does. I am not so naive to think that these games don't exist but I want them to remain underground. There's nothing ok about glorifying rape in any form.

    And before anyone jumps on me about violence towards men in games and equality in all things, I'm not a huge fan of violent games anyway. Frankly, if it's not killing dragons and kobolds, I generally don't play it.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now