Valve is making a huge change that’s going to have a massive impact on the content you see in the Steam Store. The company is doing away with human curation and allowing everything to be sold through its platform.
Valve says it should be up to players to decide what kinds of games they play, while developers should have the freedom to choose what kinds of games they make. However, it will be creating new tools that give shoppers greater control over what appears in their Steam Store.
Steam is the largest game distribution platform on the planet, with more than 150 million registered users who spent more than $4.3 billion on games in 2017. Until now, all of the titles you see in the Steam Store were approved by a human, but that’s going to change.
Valve has made the decision to “allow everything” into the Steam Store — but there are some caveats.
All games will be allowed on Steam
Valve says that it shouldn’t be up to its employs to decide what we play and what we make.
“If you’re a player, we shouldn’t be choosing for you what content you can or can’t buy,” Valve explans in a post on its blog. “If you’re a developer, we shouldn’t be choosing what content you’re allowed to create.”
“Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.”
Some might see this as a way for Valve to distance itself from controversial titles, like Active Shooter, a school shooting simulator that recently made its way onto the Steam Store before finally being pulled. If Valve leaves the decisions up to players and developers, it can’t be blamed, right?
But Valve will step in in certain cases. Although “everything” will be allowed on Steam, it won’t sell titles that are considered illegal, “or straight up trolling.”
Developers will have to disclose controversial content
Valve will allow controversial games. It will allow violent and graphic content. It will even allow sexually explicit titles. But if any of those games are illegal, or they were made solely to cause anger and upset, they will be banned from Steam.
To make these games easier to identify, Valve will require game developers to disclose any controversial content during the submission process. Developers who continually refuse to do this will no longer have the opportunity to sell their titles through the Steam Store.
Valve has also promised new tools that will give shoppers greater control over the content they see. Some of these tools are already available, but they’re basic and hard to find. New and improved solutions will be available, and they’ll be much easier to access.
Even though graphic and sexual content will be allowed in the Steam Store, then, you don’t have to see it when you’re shopping.
Why is Valve allowing everything on Steam?
There are many reasons why Valve has come to this decision. In a nutshell, the company explains that human curation has simply become way too complicated.
Games that might be perfectly acceptable to some players are incredibly offensive to others. Games that are legal in some countries and regions are illegal in others. Games that some players might consider half-baked and unfinished are still a great deal of fun for others.
“The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad,” Valve explains. And it’s not just players and developers who have different opinions on what’s right and what’s wrong.
Valve employees also disagree on which games should be approved for Steam and which ones shouldn’t. “So when we say there’s no way to avoid making a bunch of people mad when making decisions in this space, we’re including our own employees, their families and their communities in that.”
Not everyone is happy
As you might expect, Valve’s new approach hasn’t been well-received by some Steam users. Many predict all kinds of problems, like an increase in shovelware and clones that will make it even more difficult for indie developers to be successful.
It certainly has its advantages and disadvantages. You only have to look at Apple’s and Google’s approaches to third-party software to see those.
Apple’s “walled-garden” prevents iOS users from downloading all kinds of apps and games that some might consider offensive or controversial, but it ensures that dangerous content never makes its way onto the App Store.
Android users, on the other hand, have access to everything, and sometimes that includes malware or complete ripoffs of other popular titles that don’t run anywhere near as well.
Valve insists, however, that it won’t make any significant changes to the Steam Store until its new tools for filtering unwanted content are ready to rollout.