By Steve Baltimore / May 18th, 2018
I’ve updated this title to reflect new information I was given. I guess there was no policy change, Steam just decided to mass flag content for whatever reason.
MangaGamer’s popular Yuri title Kindred Spirits on the Roof and several other anime style visual novel titles have been targeted for removal by Steam. Valve has a apparently made a sudden shift in position regarding this type of content which has lead to a bunch of titles being flagged. Kindred Spirits on a Roof has been sold on Steam for over two years and has been praised for depictions of lesbian relationships.
Valve’s reason for threatening removal of the title is as follows:
“We’ve discovered pornographic depictions in your product: Kindred Spirits on the Roof. This is a violation of our rules and guidelines for content that can be distributed on the Steam platform. We won’t be able distribute the product on Steam as long as it includes pornographic depictions.”
MangaGamer has responded to this on their official blog with the following:
“We went to great pains to run the game’s content by Valve representatives––including sending along every potentially questionable graphical asset along with advanced builds of the title––to ensure that that feeling was mutual. The game would have never appeared on the platform if we had not confirmed with Valve representatives that they did not feel the content was pornographic and was appropriate for the platform.”
We’ve just received some troubling news today that @steam_games has decided to pull down our titled “Mutiny!!” within 2 weeks for ‘reports of pornographic content’. Now those of you who know @Lupiesoft know that we don’t put that on Steam, or advertise that content on Steam.
— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
We have been informed that adult content in Tropical Liquor must be censored by the end of this month or the game will be removed from Steam. We are working on this issue.https://t.co/Cs3VxVARQy #steam
— NEKO WORKs@OVA配信中！ (@nekopara_pr) May 18, 2018
– IMPORTANT NOTICE –
I’ve received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop violates the rules & guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content.
— HunieDev (@HuniePotDev) May 17, 2018
We have been informed that content in Re;Lord 1 must be censored by the end of this month or the game will be removed from Steam. We are going to engage in talks with Valve but at the same time make adjustments as requested. https://t.co/ZhG2TnBJcP
— Sekai Project (@sekaiproject) May 18, 2018
MangaGamer’s Press Director, John Pickett, had this to add:
“This is terrible news for everyone in the visual novel industry and the gaming industry as whole. We followed every guideline provided to us by Valve to the letter, so there is no reason for this title to be cut off when it has conformed to the standards provided. The sexual content present in Kindred Spirits is no worse that what can readily be found in titles like The Witcher series, yet those remain unaffected. When we launched Gahkthun of the Golden Lightning on Steam, we took it through the ESRB rating system because it featured content that was slightly more explicit than that of Kindred Spirits, and that passed review with a Mature rating, not AO.
It is dangerous for every small, indie development team when a major entity can just cut off the revenue streams they rely on like this, even after they have followed all proper procedures and conformed to the standards and guidelines provided by the retailer. Especially when no clear guidance or notice is provided when new standards are being implemented.
If this is more than just a major short-sighted error on Valve’s end, it could be disastrous for visual novels and the advancements in expression within gaming made in recent years.”
MangaGamer’s blog goes on to hint at the development of a new website and new store platform. Others have also stepped up to offer visual novel developers a new home as well.
Today many game developers were told to censor their games (by removing mature content) or they will be forced off of Steam.
That’s exactly why we launched FAKKU Games earlier this year.
Please help spread the word that FAKKU accepts ALL GAMES.
— FAKKU (@FAKKU) May 18, 2018
COME ONE COME ALL; NUTAKU IS THE HOME OF HENTAI AND ADULT GAMING
If you know of anyone affected by Steam’s decision to remove mature games for having sexual content, let them know they have a home on Nutaku! Reach out to email@example.com for more info!#eroge #gamedev #steam
— Nutaku Games™ (@nutakugames) May 18, 2018
My take on all this is Valve never had clear rules for this content despite assurances they made to MangaGamer and others. Their stance is very disingenuous as well, since I’m sure games like Grand Theft Auto V with fully nudity and sex will be untouched by this.