What Steam’s New ‘Anything Goes’ Policy Means for the Adult Gaming Industry
Big changes lie ahead since the platform lifted its ban on sexual content.
Only a few short months ago, game developers were feeling the wrath of Valve’s mighty ban on sexual content hosted on its popular video game platform Steam.
But the Valve we’re witnessing this September is a whole new beast.
The corporation recently announced it will be relaxing its family-friendly approach to digital game distribution on Steam. In a recent blog post, Valve gave a brief overview of what to expect in its new (almost) “anything goes” approach, which excludes illegal content and trolling.
And although there is always bound to be some opposition, the community has been very supportive of the surprise move by the digital distribution giant.
What will this mean for adult game developers?
A whole new world is about to open up for the game developers who were previously relegated to the shadows, shunned from the mainstream marketplaces by an overly conservative community.
The new and improved Steam has not only given smaller independent developers a way to sell their art, but it will add legitimacy to adult only-gaming. This is something the niche industry has struggled with since its inception.
I am almost positive in the coming weeks we are about to see an overwhelming amount of poorly made hentai puzzle games and a hundred different clones of flappy bird with boobs.
However, I pray that developers who want to use this opportunity to join mainstream gaming to release only quality products and not rush for the quick cash grab—no matter how enticing it would be to release a knock-off version of Angry Birds in which the feathered characters are endowed with genitals and other sexualized features.
We've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. – Valve
A double-edged sword
While it’s great to see Steam standing up for its consumers, or at least getting out of their way, there is still the issue of policing the new content.
Reading the comments of Steam users underneath the Valve blog post that announces the ban lift, many were concerned the new relaxed rules are akin to a kind of Trojan Horse.
The Steam community may well get some really amazing giant wooden horses. But how many trash games are going to be let in with them? And does this up the possibility of destroying the platform from within?
This is a valid concern from the community. Once you remove the barrier for entry and begin allowing anyone virtually unvetted to release content on a platform, you will likely end up with a second Google-style Play Store which has become infamous for its ad-ridden freemium games.
Releasing enough shovelware onto Steam unchecked could run the real risk of destabilizing the balance of quality titles and lowering the value of the real content.
If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. – Valve
Our first victory (just not for me)
Last week, Steam released its first full 100% uncensored release, Negligee: Love Stories. This is proof that Steam isn’t messing around releasing R18+ adult content on its platform, which is great news unless you live in one of the 18 Countries where this game is not allowed to be sold.
Though Steam is taking a hands-off approach to digital distribution, it would seem many governments around the world aren't planning to follow suit like Australia, where I am writing this article.
Many countries like Australia are still quite draconian when it comes to adult-only gaming and still make developers heavily censor their games or risk having their work refused classification altogether.
Though there is an argument to be made for home console gaming, I simply cannot see the point on a platform like Steam, since you always have the option to legally download the software directly from the developer’s website.
But alas if you, unfortunately, happen to find yourself residing in one of the 18 countries not invited to the X-Rated Steam party, your options are quite slim. You can move countries to somewhere a little less strict on adult content or use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to legally change your location
You can read Valve's full announcement here.
What do you think of Stream’s new anything goes policy? Is it a good idea, or would you rather Steam not sell adult games and VR experiences? Let us know in the comments.