Valve says it will stop making editorial judgments about what games can be in the Steam Store. However, two exceptions mean that Active Shooter – which put the content issue in focus – would likely still be banned.
The company’s Eric Johnson says that the new guiding principle is that Valve shouldn’t decide what games developers make or players buy. He added that “right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”
He noted that how that works in practice will take some tweaking, particularly when it comes to dealing with different laws in different countries. He also said there’ll be an enhanced filtering system for Steam customers to use so that they can get more control over which games they do or don’t see, rather than have to wade through titles that aren’t to their taste.
There’s also an implication that commenting and rating systems could get an overhaul: developers who build controversial content shouldn’t have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we’ll be building tools and options to support them too.
Johnson also made clear that the views of different members of Valve’s employee basis often disagree on the content of games. He said to people who develop offensive games, “There will be people throughout the Steam community who hate your games, and hope you fail to find an audience, and there will be people here at Valve who feel exactly the same way. However, offending someone shouldn’t take away your game’s voice.”
The mentioned of “trolling” is significant as it likely means Valve may still exercise the right to remove games it feels are being offensive simply for the sake of it. In particular, that terminology would likely mean it might still have banned Active Shooter, a game based around school shooting that seemed primarily designed to provoke a reaction and attract attention.