A few years ago, PC Gaming Platform Steam underwent a social and political maelstrom of disapproval and discontent due to their handling of the top-down shooter “Hatred” that, to the dismay of many, allowed players to take control of a man who used a shotgun and assault rifle to go on a shooting spree through a suburban town.
But how did Steam mess up the handling of this situation? According to many social media frequenters and activists at the time, Steam should not have allowed a product of such explicit or aggressive nature on their platform, and yet they chose to do so anyway. Hatred is available now on Steam and has been since its launch.
Much more recently, Steam was struck with the public’s disapproval of another controversial title hitting its market. The title in question began as a “SWAT SIMULATOR” game, but developer into an asymmetrical multiplayer shooter in which one team played as the SWAT team and the other played as a team of school shooters.
For obvious reasons, the public did not approve of this feature and thus launched yet another political and social media campaign to convince Steam to ban this game from their store. This time, Steam did end up banning the game, but not due to its content: The game’s developer was revealed to actually be a developer who Steam had banned previously and had attempted to return to the scene under a different account name.
However, this event was the last straw for Steam, who followed the closing of this event with an official statement on exactly what content would and what wouldn’t be allowed in the future.
This statement was, to say the least, quite shocking.
According to a company Blog Post, Steam feels that the best approach is to allow “everything” that isn’t illegal in their store. That means pornographic and otherwise offensive content is fair game.
However, they have begun to roll out the first of a series of preventative measures that will allow users to shape how they want their own front pages to look and what content they don’t want to see in their steam libraries.
According to their latest company blog post, this update will put the responsibility on the game developers themselves to publically address any content in their games that might be considered “controversial”.
The content stated by the developer will be sorted under one of several “mature” tags, all of which will cause the game to be excluded from one’s primary browsing when a user changes their preferences to not include mature content.
And by ‘primary’ browsing, we mean that it is still possible to find one of these titles on the store, but almost impossible to simply ‘stumble’ into one. For example, even if one sets their preferences so as not to include games with “blood” in them, ‘The Witcher 3″ will still show up as a suggested search if a player types “The Witcher 3” into their search bar. However, the game’s preview image will be blurred out, and the steam store will tell you that it has been blurred because the title contains blood.
Steam has also given themselves the right to ban any game from their store that they consider being “straight up trolling”. During the blog post, their definition of what “trolling” means is intentionally vague, and they address that in the post: They fear that if they did add an exact definition of “trolling”, people would find a way to avoid that definition and let their content, which is clearly meant to enrage or offend people rather than entertain them, or is meant to abuse the Steam store to scam people out of their money, slip onto the system. For this reason, the Steam curators believe that leaving it up to their judgment is the best way of deciding which games to remove from their store.