Just a day after Valve announced a new 'anything goes' policy for Steam—simplistically, as long as a game is not illegal or "trolling," it will be allowed—it has removed AIDS Simulator (opens in new tab), ISIS Simulator (opens in new tab), Suicide Simulator (opens in new tab), Asset Flip Simulator (opens in new tab), and Triggering Simulator (opens in new tab) from the platform.
The 'games' were all added to Steam prior to the announcement of the new policy (Suicide Simulator and ISIS Simulator were actually added in September 2017, in case there was any doubt that Valve's existing approval systems were useless), and while they could easily fit most definitions of "trolling," they were presumably removed under the old rules: Valve said in the policy announcement that it "won't be making significant changes to what's arriving on Steam until we've finished some of the tools" it's working on to help Steam users filter what they see.
Even so, it seems likely that the games would have been taken down under the new guidelines, had they been in place. Referring to the prior removal of the school shooting game Active Shooter last week, Valve's Doug Lombardi told VentureBeat (opens in new tab) that it was dropped "because it was a troll, designed to do nothing but generate outrage and cause conflict through its existence."
"In addition, the developer had been involved in numerous misrepresentations, copyright violations, and customer abuses. There are no second chances for Active Shooter, or its developers," Lombardi said. "And to be explicit, while the developer behind it was also a troll, we’d reject Active Shooter if it had been submitted by any other developer."
Valve's statement clarifies its definition of trolling somewhat, and it might be inevitable that some degree of an "I know it when I see it" attitude will have to be taken when determining what crosses that line. But the big-picture approach remains vague. For one thing, will games which "generate outrage" in a more coded way not count as trolling? And does intending to generate any kind of outrage count as trolling? People are outraged about lots of things, including good things.
In a best-case scenario, the removal of these games (and their developer, BunchOD00dz) means that the absolute worst, most derogatory games won't be welcomed to the platform, as the sloppy wording of the announcement suggested to us. But "trolling" remains a hazy term that other developers might work harder and less obviously to push, and I have no doubt that's something that Valve will be forced to confront in the fairly near future—one way or the other.