By Benny Carrillo / March 10th, 2018
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed here are the authors alone and do not represent the views and opinions of oprainfall as a whole.
It’s supposed to be a good time to be a Yuri fan. MangaGamer has released the next entry in the A Kiss for the Petals franchise, Maidens of Michael on both Steam and its own online store. However, what should have been just another release, has turned into an uncertain situation due to the sudden delisting of Maidens of Michael from Steam’s online store.
What makes this situation rather peculiar is that Steam and MangaGamer have worked closely together in the past. Steam has been critical in cultivating the visual novel community in the West. Not only due to it being a trusted platform for consumers but because it’s open to diverse types of content. MangaGamer has been a major part of that push.
MangaGamer has offered all-ages versions of several visual novels on Steam. In addition, the publisher has been behind many important milestones in relation to the growth of visual novels on Steam. For example, it published Kindred Spirits on the Roof. A game that not only was a landmark Yuri title but also could be classified as one of the first Eroge on the platform. In short, these two companies have worked closely together in the past. So, what’s changed?
While we don’t have a definitive answer, I’m going to try and speculate on a few things. Namely, why neither MangaGamer nor Steam has said anything and why the game may have been pulled. Finally, I’m going to touch on what we as concerned fans can do. But first, let’s summarize what we actually know.
What We Know
For those not familiar with A Kiss for the Petals, it’s a series of Yuri visual novels. Or visual novels that focus on lesbian relationships. The series takes place at St. Michael’s Academy which is an all-girls school. If you’re familiar with series like Strawberry Panic! then you’ll have an idea of what to expect. This series focuses on the various relationships that take root at the school and begin to bloom between these young women. In fact, this series has been around a long time.
In total there are over 20 games in the franchise spanning four series. Of those, three have been released by MangaGamer in the West. First was Remembering How we Met was released on September 25th, 2015 for Steam. Next, The New Generation was released on November 25, 2016, on MangaGamer’s site as an 18+ title. Finally, that brings us to Maidens of Michael which was released as an all-ages version on Steam and an 18+ version on MangaGamer’s site on February 22, 2018. A practice which MangaGamer has been doing for years without issues until Wednesday.
On Wednesday evening, Maidens of Michael was delisted from the Steam store with no explanation posted or given. Trying to access the game’s Steam page results in a redirect to the Steam homepage. However, the game’s community page is still able to be accessed along with its forums.
From reading this thread on the page, we can see that none of the people who purchased the game were informed by Valve, the owners of Steam, as to why the game was delisted. Nor have they been offered refunds or credits. This most likely means the game has not been completely pulled yet. Just hidden so that no one can purchase it. Still, this leaves the game’s fate uncertain. Especially because MangaGamer hasn’t provided an update on the matter publicly, which some people in the thread were concerned about.
The Word from MangaGamer is…
MangaGamer’s radio silence regarding the delisting may seem odd. Especially since the company is pretty transparent. As such, I reached out to them for any information on the matter they had, which they happily provided.
MangaGamer confirmed that on Wednesday evening Maidens of Michael was indeed delisted from the Steam store by Valve. However, as of Friday night, they had yet to receive any clarification as to why the game had been pulled or how they could rectify the situation. In short, they’ve been trying for two days to get an answer so they can give fans an answer.
This is a little unsettling for various reasons. MangaGamer is a well-respected publisher in the visual novel space. If they’re having this much trouble getting support from Valve, I can only imagine how hard it must be for an indie-dev to receive support on their games. In addition, this inconveniences MangaGamer’s fans who wish to purchase the all-ages version of the game. It denies the ability to do so without providing an explanation and leaves those who have purchased it unsure about its fate. Why would Valve do this?
Valve: Silent in a Time of Need.
There are various reasons for delisting a game on Steam. However, until Valve comes forth with a reason all we can do is speculate. More than likely, someone filed a complaint regarding the game and cited its content as an issue. I’ll touch on that more in a moment, but let’s focus on Valve for now.
In its defense, Valve does need to take content reports seriously. A publisher who is abusing Valve’s platform not only can cause harm to the community but can place Valve in serious legal trouble. There are various federal, state, and local laws regarding the sale of offensive content. In addition, many credit card processors restrict the types of content a store can sell. So, a violation of these laws or agreements can be a serious issue. However, there are a few issues I have with this case.
First off, Valve should be working closely with MangaGamer to review and resolve whatever issue has arisen. It should not take two days for Valve to let any publisher or developer to know why its game has been delisted and is under review. If Valve wants to complete its own independent review that is their right. But, you do not build goodwill with your customers and clients when you are completely silent as to what’s occurring. Secondly, there’s the matter that the game was just released.
While I am not intimately familiar with the process Valve uses to approve games on its platform, I do assume that there is an approval process. The game would need to be approved to be listed in the store and I’m fairly certain that would include a review of the content of the title. As such, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to approve something for sale and then revoke it three weeks later when the content hasn’t changed except for bug fixes.
That being the case then, why did Steam pull the game then? Sadly, I believe their hand was forced due to complaints. More than likely, the game was pulled for review to verify the content was appropriate for sale on Steam. So let’s talk about that content for a moment.
Playing the “Schoolgirl” Card
Maidens of Michael as I mentioned is a Yuri visual novel. This means that it does depict relationships between women. In addition, there are people who are uncomfortable with the fact that these characters are students. And honestly, that’s fine. If the content isn’t for you, then it’s not for you. However, there is a difference between voicing an opinion and acting maliciously.
The problem here I suspect is that a small minority of people are reporting that the game has adult content in the Steam version. Which wouldn’t be hard to do since there is an 18+ version and it’s not hard to either screenshot or describe scenes that occur in it. Reports like this would force Valve to take the game down to conduct a content review. But, let me ask a simple question – Why this game?
MangaGamer has released several games that have an all-ages Steam version and an 18+ version. In addition, the company has offered content restoration patches on its site for some of those Steam titles without incident. No one has raised a serious complaint up to this point. So why now? Sadly, it’s because people find schoolgirls offensive. Or more specifically, find lesbians offensive.
As much as I hate to raise this argument, there’s a very telling post by a user named “hamburger” in the game’s Steam forums. In particular, one post where he states and I quote: “no sex? correct. it’s impossible for lesbians to have sex (it would be sodomy)”.
While you can stretch the meaning of sodomy to mean non-vaginal intercourse, the term is commonly not used that way. Besides, that also ignores the fact that there are various marital aids that can facilitate vaginal intercourse between women. However, let’s delve a little deeper into a claim hamburger made. Namely that he’s responsible for the game being taken down using the below photo as proof.
- The Steam rep, Arisa, only removed the game from the user’s account.
- While Arisa did say they would look into it, they mentioned nothing about delisting the game.
- There is no way for a user to know if their complaint directly led to a game being delisted
- This is not hamburger’s account. It’s the account of another user by the name of “Curator Connect” as can be seen in the top right-hand portion of the image.
I think it’s safe to say that hamburger’s credibility is a bit lacking at this point. But let’s also address one final issue. That the ages of the characters aren’t apparently stated in the all-ages version leaving it ambiguous.
To be fair, MangaGamer could include a blurb somewhere stating that they are 18 years of age or older. In fact, this is done in the 18+ version as soon as you start up the game. Maybe in the future MangaGamer can include a similar warning for the all-ages version just to remind the player of what they’re getting into.
Sadly though, there are people out there like hamburger. People who let simple prejudices and misconceptions guide their every action. People who don’t want diverse content in the world, but who only want to discriminate and shame others. That then raises the question of what can fans do against people like this?
Our Responsibility as Fans
The best thing you can do is show support. The easiest way would be to tweet MangaGamer and Steam that you want games like Maidens of Michaels. Yes, complaints do catch people’s attention, but it’s also really hard to ignore hundreds of people saying that they want diverse content like Yuri titles.
Also, if you’ve played the all-ages Steam version of Maiden’s of Michaels make double sure that you leave feedback about the game. This is doubly important since you have first-hand knowledge of how events in the game play out. Finally, let me touch upon something you shouldn’t do.
Don’t use coarse language or use threats if you tweet at Steam or MangaGamer. While it’s sad I have to explicitly state this, the echo chamber that is the internet tends to be a very foul and negative place due to a sense of anonymity. This does not endear you to anyone or make you sound intelligent.
Think of it this way – ambassadors are people who help facilitate peace and communication between people. Meanwhile, hamburgers are people who apparently are bigoted and think lesbians can only perform sodomy.
In short, be an ambassador, not a hamburger.
Thanks for reading and take care.
18+A Kiss For The PetalsAll AgesDelistingerogeMaidens of MichaelMangaGamerSteamValvevisual novelyuri