Anything goes on Steam so long as it isn't 'illegal' or 'trolling'

Anything goes on Steam so long as it isn't 'illegal' or 'trolling'

Valve has announced a switch-up in its content policy for Steam.

In a blog post, Erik Johnson wrote that there had been an internal discussion as to what should make it to Valve's storefront over a long period of time. The conclusion that the firm arrived at? It should just let everything on the platform, so long as it isn't breaking the law or 'trolling' (whatever that means with regards to an actual content policy).

In lieu of Valve taking an active role in deciding what should come to the platform, the consumers who use Steam will be - effectively - the moderators of content. Which is something that can never go wrong.

Johnson also clarified that Valve had not automated the process of games coming to Steam, like many - including myself - had assumed. Humans had been curating the pipeline the entire time, meaning that projects like school shooting game Active Shooter had a pair of human eyes look over it before a real person went 'sure'.

The change isn't going to be instantaneous but will be rolled out in the future.

"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," Johnson wrote.

"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. 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. 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. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you'll be able to do that. And it's not just players that need better tools either - developers who build controversial content shouldn't have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we'll be building tools and options to support them too."

This follows controversy after Valve told developers of adult-themed visual novel projects that they would have to censor their work to remain on the platform. The firm has since gone back on this, saying that it will re-review the games. But in the meantime, has swept in to allow some of these projects onto its storefront

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.