In what can be lightly described as a controversial move, Valve has made the decision to allow any and all games on their storefront regardless of the content and will only step in if the content is “illegal or straight up trolling”. In this long post, Valve’s Erik Johnson explains the challenges that the company faces with deciding which games it allows on the store, most likely spurred on by the recent controversy involving Active Shooter, the school shooting simulator game that garnered a lot of negative press. Instead of reimagining their already paltry content curation systems, they’ve effectively decided to give up and turn Steam into the Wild West.
Now, there are many justifications for this given in the post, with Johnson saying that no matter what they try, people will still be mad, including the people over at Valve. Instead of fighting a fruitless battle, they’ll open the floodgates for any and all games to go directly on the store and will encourage developers to be upfront with their games if they contain any controversial themes. As a way to circumvent the inevitable horde of controversial, mature, sexual and infuriating games, they said they will focus on giving users more tools to control what they see on the store. You will soon be able to filter games out by their type and go around Steam’s hidden algorithm to create a more personalised experience.
If you ask me, this is a terrible move on Valve’s part. There are some arguments to be made in regard to freedom of expression and giving all game developers equal opportunities to create the content they want to and users the power to consume the content they want, but it flies so close to the sun that it can only end in disaster. Steam is so cluttered already that giving everyone free reign over the platform will just bury everything beneath a mountain of edgy shovelware and probably a torrent of asset flips. Steam has had its fair share of terrible games that are unfinished, straight up horrible or just plain artistically offensive. The solution of just giving up is one of cowardice.
Instead of looking at their curation system, putting more systems in place and bolstering the platform’s quality standards, they’re just going to give in to absolute chaos. We’ll have to wait and see what effect this decision will have on the platform, but I can already tell that it won’t be rosy.