After recent backlash from blocking sexually explicit content, Valve has decided to not just be more lenient with its curation practices on Steam, but rather to just go ahead and remove them all together. In a recent blog post, Valve’s Erik Johnson explains that, “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.”
And he seems pretty honest when he says “everything” there. That means content that’s clearly offensive, overly graphic, potential racist, or otherwise harmful could very well end up published on Steam now.
According to Johnson, this doesn’t mean that Valve agrees with it, but rather they’re letting the curation decisions be made by their algorithms and the community itself.
“If we allow your game onto the Store, it does not mean we approve or agree with anything you’re trying to say with it,” Johnson writes. ” If you’re a developer of offensive games, this isn’t us siding with you against all the people you’re offending…However, offending someone shouldn’t take away your game’s voice. We believe you should be able to express yourself like everyone else, and to find others who want to play your game. But that’s it.”
It seems like a noble ideal, but I have concerns about how this will play out in practice. Hands-on curation and quality control used to be the goal here, but in some ways it feels like Valve is just giving up and waiting to see if the market will correct itself.
“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 writes. “…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.”
Time will tell what this means for VR content — we all know there is a lot of inappropriate and potentially offensive uses of VR out in the wild already.
What do you think of this news? Is less moderation a good thing? Let us know down in the comments below!