Valve appears to be taking a step back from reviewing the content that appears on Steam. The digital distribution platform is one of the behemoths of the PC gaming world, and is undoubtedly the primary route in which PC users pick up games to play. Although Valve made its name with creating such acclaimed games as Half-Life, it may well be that Steam's success has even dwarfed the company's library of developed games.
However, the popularity of Steam has created some serious problems for Valve. The digital distribution platform has become something of a cumbersome beast, with so many titles appearing on the platform that it has been unwieldy to curate content. This has, in turn, led to some serious criticism, with Steam being plagued with low-quality games alongside those of questionable content.
Valve has attempted to maintain order on Steam, albeit with limited success, but it now appears as though the company is taking a much more hands off approach. In a post over on the Steam community pages, Valve's Erik Johnson explained that the company had held discussions about exactly what content should appear on Steam going forward. The answer, it seems, is that as long as the game isn't illegal, Valve is willing to have it on board.
Johnson stated that Valve has 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." The company is therefore focusing on "building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see" rather than on actually curating the content that appears on the platform. Although it appears as though there will still be some kind of controls in place, Valve is going to be much less involved in what games make it to the Steam store.
Although there's certainly some merit to allowing users to build a storefront that works from them - albeit with little information given about exactly how that will function - unfortunately there are further pitfalls for this method of approach. One of the biggest criticisms of Steam over the last few years is the sheer volume of poor quality games, some of which even failing to work on a technical level. Valve may be thinking about the complexities of laws around the world on an internationally-available platform, alongside starting up game development again, but there may well be further headaches ahead.
Beyond this, there are also some concerns over exactly what games will be available on Steam, and what Valve dubs "trolling" content. Valve has been criticized for its failure to moderate hate groups on the platform for some time, and some within those movements may see this move as a carte blanche to use Steam as a platform for games that would previously have been pulled from the storefront. After all, although Valve may not want to be seen as "siding" with these groups, there's certainly some that could see it that way. Let's see how well this free and easy Steam fares.