Developers of adult-themed video games that are looking to have the games made available on Steam are facing indefinite delays, with Valve not giving a prospective timeline for approval. As it stands, it looks as though the company is doing something behind the scenes to improve user-controlled moderation.
The idea of content curation on Steam has long been a topic of discussion. The platform itself is the most popular for PC gamers, providing a quick and easy-to-use service with access to a huge library of games. However, that itself has been the cause of many problems, including a difficult struggle to try and moderate the platform's content altogether.
Valve has seen plenty of valid criticism for the lack of quality control on Steam, particularly when it comes to either games that aren't up to technical standards or include hateful content. That said, it appears as though the next step for Valve is potentially a limit on the visibility of adult-themed content. As reported by Gamasutra, developers of adult games have seen their submissions to Steam being indefinitely delayed.
The reason for this delay is that Valve is currently building some new Steam features that will allow users to moderate what content they see in the Valve storefront. According to SeanJ of Valve, these adult games will be included within this framework. "Your game has content in it that needs these features to be completed and shipped first. You’ll have to do some additional store page work around describing the content in your game once we have completed those features," said SeanJ's response to one affected developer. "We don’t have an exact timeline for those features though, so please be patient as we complete the work."
Even though Valve has previously come after these adult-themed games, it seems like a strange time to start pushing this again. After all, the company recently came out and stated that it would no longer regulate Steam with the exception of illegal games. That said, Valve said at the time that it would be looking to allow users to have more control over what content they see - although if this is part of that process, some adult-themed game developers might see this as a form of regulation in itself.
All in all, this won't impact on too many Steam users as it stands, but nonetheless it's an interesting move from Valve. Of late, the company has been moving towards less moderation on its platform, helped by Germany's lifting of a ban on Nazi imagery, and yet these adult-themed games are instead potentially seeing some kind of restriction or censorship of their own. Hopefully, Valve will be able to explain both the reasoning and the functionality of its new system soon.