Valve treats customers as adults; won’t police content on Steam
Valve doesn’t want to be your mom.
The PC game distributor announced today that they will not remove games or software from their Steam platform unless the product in question is either flatly illegal or “trolling” users.
This decision follows a series of controversies regarding whether to allow risqué Japanese titles or games that mimicked school shootings on Steam.
While admitting that it was impossible to please everyone with whatever decision was made, Valve’s Erik Johnson explained his company’s decision:
“So we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn’t be the ones deciding this. 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.
“Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
“With that principle in mind, 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.”
This new policy doesn’t solve the asset-flipping shovelware problem on the platform, and Johnson’s comments didn’t outline what Valve considers to be a “trolling” game, either. It’s important to remember that Steam has a fairly generous refund policy if you purchase a game and find that it isn’t suitable for you.
This announcement has already been met with disdain by the usual suspects but was celebrated by others. Video games are protected by the first amendment as free speech, but this protection does not obligate a company like Valve to host any or all games on Steam. At least for moment, however, Valve appears to be treating its customers as responsible adults with agency over their own gaming decisions.
Want to put a game on Steam about a communist transgender lesbian who violently beats random people to death with a dildo-shaped baseball bat? Have at it. Want to play a risqué dating simulator featuring beautiful, buxom, ambiguously-aged anime babes? Go for it.
Nothing is stopping you from not buying or playing particular games on Steam, and much of the outrage appears to be stemmed from concerns over what other people should be allowed to play. Valve doesn’t want to be your mom, and they’re currently not interested in whether you have an urge to tattle on someone for playing a game that hurts your feelings.
So, if the idea of someone you’ve never met sitting in a place where you aren’t and playing a game that you don’t like is keeping you up at night, then I suggest you give your actual mom a visit and use her shoulder to cry on.
What’s that? Your mom’s dead? Well that explains a lot.