Skip to main content

Steam's rules about adult content continue to baffle

Valve opened the floodgates to any old rubbish appearing on Steam a long time ago, but the store still occasionally acts like a draconian gatekeeper—specifically when it comes to adult content. Steam’s had a turbulent relationship with pornographic games, and currently doesn’t permit graphic nudity or games that could be considered pornographic onto the store. The problem is that it’s a bit inconsistent. 

As Kotaku notes, games like House Party and Strangers in a Strange Land have been pulled from the store, others continue to be sold there, and probably will until somebody complains. In July, House Party reappeared, with the naughty bits censored, and late last month Strangers in a Strange Land reappeared as well. It’s part puzzle game, part porn romp, but this new version tweaks the latter part, censoring the nudity and sex

The censored scenes can be easily unlocked by downloading a patch from the developer, however, so ultimately Steam is still selling a pornographic game. And what isn’t censored are the themes and tone of the game—it’s just the sex. 

It’s worth noting that, not only are other porn games still being sold, games like The Witcher 3 contain fairly graphic sex scenes, but they seemingly get away with it because the game’s themselves are not overtly pornographic, despite the content. It really seems to come down to how the game is marketed, which doesn’t seem like a great basis for deciding which games are acceptable and which are not. 

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.