Valve will not distribute Rape Day, a disturbing pornographic visual novel in which players "verbally harass, kill, and rape women."
"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," writes Valve's Erik Johnson in a statement. "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."
Criticism centered on the game this week after its listing on Steam became more widely noticed. Steam users on the game's official forums, as well as members of the gaming community elsewhere on the internet, called for its removal as they wondered why a game with this subject matter would appear on Steam. Last June, Valve loosened its rules around content on Steam, in the process allowing pornographic games and other previously-banned material to appear on the platform for the first time. Rape Day was perhaps the biggest challenge to this 'anything goes' policy: a game explicitly about committing acts of sexual violence.
A listing for the game, now removed, existed on Steam since at least February 19. Like other pornographic games on Steam, it was only visible to logged-in users who had opted to see adult content on the store. The page hosted explicit screenshots and updates from the developer, such as a post explaining their decision to remove a "baby killing scene" to avoid breaking Valve's rules around depictions of child exploitation. Valve's outline of the Steam Store page review process indicates that all listings are manually approved by Valve before they appear in the store.
"We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find 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," Valve's statement concludes.