HuniePop screenshot from the Steam PC version

Despite being the biggest PC storefront, Steam has a bit of a strange relationship with adult, ultra-violent and potentially controversial games. Some are allowed in without any changes, others are censored but have easily-accessible patches that remove said censoring, and a whole bunch more are simply denied entry. With that in mind, you might be interested to hear that Valve has now suddenly revealed that they are working on allowing pretty much all games to be sold on Steam!

"What do players wish we would do? What would make them most happy? What's considered acceptable discussion / behavior / imagery varies significantly around the world, socially and legally," reads the official announcement. "Even when we pick a single country or state, the legal definitions around these topics can be too broad or vague to allow us to avoid making subjective and interpretive decisions. The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad."

"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."

Steam screenshot of the highly controversial game Hatred

Oddly enough, the ultra-violent Hatred is already being sold on Steam

While I often criticize Valve for their hands-off approach that frequently offloads most of the work to the customers themselves, I have to agree with them here. Steam is a gigantic storefront, and as long as each user can filter the content that shows up for them, I certainly don't see a reason why Valve should ban anything besides illegal or pure cash-grab games. Thankfully, it would appear that Valve agrees as they are doing just that!

"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. 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," continues the announcement. "We already have some tools, but they're too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough. We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you're not interested in. So if you don't want to see anime games on your Store, you'll be able to make that choice."

"So what does this mean? 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."

This whole system is going to take a bit of time to fully develop, but it's still good to hear that Valve is moving in the right direction with Steam. While I'm sure some will celebrate the arrival of adult games, I'm personally way more excited about the new filtering options. My Steam queue has been dominated by absolute garbage for an entire year now, so to finally have it nice and clean is going to be quite lovely!

Once Valve shares more details I'll make sure to let you know, but until then you can read a little bit more about this over at Steam.