If you follow a few visual novel publishers and developers such as MangaGamer then you’ll have noticed that many of their games need to be censored to remain on Steam, despite having worked closely with Valve in the past to ensure that their games are perfectly acceptable for the platform.
Not only have some of these games been available on Steam for years, such as Kindred Spirits on the Roof and HuniePop, but they have all-ages versions where no nudity is included unless you download a patch. Kindred Spirits in particular was well-received for how well it handled same-sex relationships, and its brief scenes of sex take up very little of the 20+ hour game.
A post on the official MangaGamer blog sheds some light on what’s going on, and nobody can fault the publisher for the lengths to went to to ensure that Steam were happy with what went onto their service. Check out some of the blog below which explains how they worked with Steam on Kindred Spirits, and how it was once pushing tasteful mature content onto the platform and was praised for it.
“As you may recall from our own announcements and coverage in several news outlets, we and many others in the industry considered the release of Kindred Spirits unaltered on the platform a positive shift in the treatment of tasteful, mature content on the platform. We stand by our assertion then that content of the game is not pornographic, but an earnest and tasteful exploration of sexuality.
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.
Despite our best efforts to respect both the letter and spirit of Valve’s content guidelines as we were made to understand them, we are wholly in the dark with this latest apparent shift in policy as no clear guidelines or standards have been provided. We will seek to negotiate with Valve to keep Kindred Spirits as-is on the Steam Store to the best of our ability, but failing that we still require guidelines to modify the title and future titles to fit these new, apparently stricter standards.”
MangaGamer are updating their own client, where more money goes to developers than purchasing a game via Steam does, so that they can sell their games in their original states.
NEKO WORKS has also chimed in, stating that Steam are only giving them until the end of the month to censor Tropical Liquor or it’ll be removed. Lupiesoft met with Valve in person to get the successful greenlight on their game, Mutiny!!, going on sale, but they’ve also fallen victim to Valve’s decision. I’m sure many other games are on the chopping block too, sadly. It sounds like games you’ve purchased will be fine though, according to HunieDev, but it’s a devastating move regardless.
It’s very disappointing to see Steam push content like this backwards, and I hope to see this decision reversed or for platforms such as MangaGamer’s to rise so that the games can be released as they should be. It’s hard to say what’s prompted Steam to take this stance now, but games such as The Witcher III and Grand Theft Auto V – which are both fantastic games – are able to remain with no censorship or threat of removal, so it’s clearly an issue with Japanese and 2D works rather than sexual content as a whole. Digital gaming, and gaming as a whole, clearly still has some strides to make, because this is both unfair and awful.
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