Valve unveils ‘anything goes’ Steam strategy with two major caveats

Steam owner Valve says it will allow pretty much anything to appear on the PC game store, provided it isn’t “illegal, or straight up trolling.”

In a lengthy blog post, the company has moved to clarify its policy on controversial content following a number of recent storms.

The company removed a game called Active Shooter, which appeared to glorify school shootings, following pressure from activists last week. Valve has also been criticised over its inconsistent stance on explicit sexual content.

Valve says the new approach will allow it to spend less time focusing on policing content and more time on giving users more control over what they actually see on the store. When debating what is and isn’t allowed on Steam, the company has seemingly determined almost anything goes, provided it doesn’t cross that legal line and isn’t designed exclusively for trolling purposes.

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The post reads: “We ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: 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. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.”

Case-by-case

Steam says it is still going to handle games on a case-by-case basis because laws vary in the different territories it operates in. It also says gamers will be able to override its recommendation algorithms in order to ensure they don’t see games they might deem offensive.

“If you see something on Steam that you think should not exist, it’s almost certain that someone at Valve is right there with you,” the company says, but decisions to censor will no longer be determined by Valve’s own values.

It told developers “if we allow your game onto the Store, it does not mean we approve or agree with anything you’re trying to say with it. If you’re a developer of offensive games, this isn’t us siding with you against all the people you’re offending. There will be people throughout the Steam community who hate your games, and hope you fail to find an audience, and there will be people here at Valve who feel exactly the same way. However, 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 blog post makes no mention of its efforts to bring the Steam Link app to the Apple App Store.

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