Valve has decided it has had enough of policing the Steam store and has instituted an “anything goes” policy for games on the storefront.
For the longest time Valve has grappled with the question “who gets to be on the Steam store?”.
It’s an important question that has many different answers. For instance, I’m not particularly offended by violence, drug use and coarse language so I don’t mind games that address those topics. However, there are folks that would prefer not seeing those things in games.
So who gets to decide what games are and aren’t on the Steam store?
For the longest time that was Valve but in a blog post by Erik Johnson, Valve is no longer playing the role of police officer.
“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. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see,” wrote Johnson.
So while we might see more games like Hatred or the more recent Agony on Steam, if Valve is really working on ways to better recommendations you may not ever see those games unless you play them or specifically search them out.
Valve’s decision has drawn controversy (obviously) with many saying this gives white supremacists and other nasty folks free reign on what they can publish to Steam.
The thing is, it’s either all okay, or none of it is okay. Valve can’t ban Hatred because it is violent while other violent games such as Call of Duty are readily available. Sure, one can argue that the two games are very different but I’d say that the only real difference is the popularity of the games.
As Johnson points out people will be offended by what they see on Steam moving forward, but he says it goes both ways.
“It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don’t think should exist. Unless you don’t have any opinions, that’s guaranteed to happen. But you’re also going to see something on the Store that you believe should be there, and some other people will hate it and want it not to exist,” writes Johnson.
Valve also says that just because a game is in the store, that doesn’t mean it is a reflection of the firm’s values or opinions.
To sum up, Valve is letting anything (except illegal content and trolling) on the Steam store but will also improve how games are recommended. That second bit is the important part but we’d remind you that just because you can buy something doesn’t mean you have to.