Valve rolls back crackdown against sexual content on Steam

Valve's crackdown on sexual content in games on Steam has been averted, at least temporarily. In fact, it may not have been intended in the first place. The day after the surprise announcement came to light, Valve apologized for the confusion and told HunieDev and others to disregard the email about their games violating Steam's guidelines on pornographic content.

Mutiny!! developer LupieSoft reported the same thing.   

As did Neko Works, developer of the Nekopara visual novels.

 And visual novel localization company MangaGamer.

It's good news for the developers and fans of those games, although as they noted, it's not an all-clear signal: Games being "re-reviewed" could still be found to violate Steam regulations. But the promise of specific feedback in those cases should enable developers to make modifications where necessary. The Steam version of HuniePop, for example, is already censored to keep the game in compliance with regulations, but workarounds are available and it's also available for purchase uncensored on other platforms.

Interestingly, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, formerly known as Morality in Media Inc., took credit on its website for spurring Valve to make the change. It claimed the crackdown was preceded by a two-year-long campaign, and a "heightened week-long grassroots campaign," calling on it to remove games with "sexually graphic and degrading games."

Valve hasn't commented on what role the NCSE played, if any, but the claim should probably be taken with a grain of salt: The top point on its list of "Recommended Policy and Platform Improvements" for Steam is the removal of the game House Party "due to its singularly degrading and exploitive themes," yet it remains on Steam (Update: It was briefly removed and then restored in August 2017 with a mandatory "censor bar" over the sex scenes, although much like HuniePop it can be removed with a patch)—and its most recent update equipped male NPCs with genitals, so they "can have sex with other NPCs."

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.