Pepe the Frog first appeared in 2005 in Matt Furie's comic Boy's Club, but courtesy of the efforts of 4chan and other sites is better known, in the online world at least, as a meme. It's taken on an uglier connotation in more recent years, however, as a sort of mascot of the alt-right, which led Furie to take a more aggressive approach to protecting his IP rights. That effort, as Motherboard reported in September, resulted in legal notices being served to Richard Spencer, Baked Alaska, Mike Cernovich, Reddit, and Amazon.
Now Furie has turned his attention to Steam. The subreddit noticed yesterday that a number of Pepe emoticons had gone missing from the Steam community market. The entries, such as this one for :CunningPepe:, are still present and purchaseable, but the image boxes are blank, and the description now states, "Emoticon art currently unavailable due to DMCA takedown notice submitted on behalf of Matt Furie."
Louis Tompros, an IP lawyer who represented Furie in a successful effort to have the copyright-infringing alt-children's book The Adventures of Pepe and Pede removed from sale earlier this year, confirmed with Kotaku that Furie had initiated the action to have the emoticons removed. "A Steam user let us know that there were Pepe images being sold on the site, and that they were being used on that site by people in connection with hateful speech," Tompros said. "We asked Steam to take those down, and it appears that it has done that."
The racist frog hasn't been completely expunged from Steam, but it does appear to be gone from the Marketplace. How the takedown will be handled with regards to native in-game content remains to be seen: The makers of Make America Great Again: The Trump Presidency, for instance, have removed it from their game, but it remains present (along with Pedobear, because of course it is) in Sweater? Ok!
Interestingly, a sweating Pepe is also widely used on Twitch as the MonkaS emote, amongst other variants, although no action appears to have been taken against any of these so far (likely because they're generally used in a purely gaming context). I've reached out to Furie for more information and will update if I receive a reply.