Another game studio has chimed in about the whole debate recently that kicked up over developers being prohibited from officially distributing uncensored patches on Steam. They are no longer allowed to make announcements about uncensored patches in news posts or in the Steam forums. However, according to adult-game publisher, MangaGamer, this change was due to potential pressure from state lawmakers.
The NSFW LewdGamer managed to get in contact with MangaGamer’s PR diretcor, John Pickett, who explained…
“On Friday, we received a notice from Valve demanding that we remove all links and discussion of adult patches from official sources on Steam, including the Steam Store Pages, and Steam Discussion boards. This is in direct conflict with what we discussed with Valve during our meeting with them, and Valve has not yet given us a reason why this policy has changed. So far they’ve only said they’ll follow up in a few business days.”
Dharker Studios made a similar statement recently, mentioning that Valve informed them that they would have to remove the direct links to the uncensored patches for their game Galaxy Girls.
A scattering of other studios also recently either removed stickied posts containing direct links to uncensored patches, or swapped out the links to more general redirects toward their official websites. MangaGamer had to use a similar method back in the summer for their game Del Segno, which was originally supposed to have the uncensored patch made available through the Steam store page but they later changed it where you had to register on their site to get the patch.
Details on the policy are sketchy, but MangaGamer’s John Pickett explained that due to state laws in Washington, Valve cannot officially sell pornography through the platform, saying…
“In late April/early May (shortly after Sakuracon), we met directly with Valve staff to discuss Steam, adult patches, adult content on Steam, and other topics.
“During our meeting Valve reiterated that anything classified as “pornography” under Washington State Law could never be carried or sold on Steam. It was made rather clear to us after our discussion that adult patches were a sensitive issue for them. It was clear in our talks that official discussion and promotion of paid adult patches was out from the beginning, because that violates Steam’s TOS by using Steam to promote offsite products.”
Valve was actually put under the lens of scrutiny by the Republican Christian group National Center on Sexual Exploitation, when they attacked Valve saying that they allowed kids to buy games like Strangers In A Strange Land or House Party, labeling both games as “pornography”. This resulted in the games being removed from Steam, being censored, and then re-added to Steam with the uncensored patches made available off-site.
National Center on Sexual Exploitation has been around for more than 50 years, being anti-porn, and anti-sexual exploitation. They were originally against brick and mortar pornographic establishments, but since the 1990s they’ve been slowly transitioning their efforts to censor internet porn. They aggressively lobbied Republican Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney to make anti-obscenity a leading issue for the cabinet’s platform after receiving strong support from the GOP, as reported by Think Progress. But things didn’t quite work out when Romney failed to take the White House in 2012, and censorship of internet porn was spared.
Nevertheless, in an interview with Prism Magazine, CEO of National Center on Sexual Exploitation, Patrick Trueman, explained that in order to get momentum for combating online porn, they needed to work with multiple organizations to do so. Trueman stated…
“[…] the chairman of the board of Morality in Media reached out to me—I was in my own law practice at the time—and said that because the anti-pornography efforts in America were going nowhere he wanted to hire me to help turn things around. We then contacted group after group around the country to form a coalition to fight the porn industry, because we know that Morality in Media can’t fight it alone. We need a whole host of groups and people, of diverse religions and races and locations. We have to work together against the sexual exploitation of human beings.”
This was the exact tactic that they used to spread word about the game House Party in an attempt to get it removed from Steam. They had a number of articles across various websites demonizing Valve as a facilitator of porn for hosting games like House Party, including websites frequented by casuals and parents such as The Buzz Magazines.
Valve was swift in complying with the complaints and had the developers censor the titles. The reason for this is because in Washington state, where Valve is headquartered, it’s illegal to sell pornographic material to minors.
In this case, NCSE using the flagrant message to say that Valve was distributing porn to “30 million” minors meant that Valve would have been in direct violation of Washington state law under chapter 9.68.060, which states…
“[…] Any person who, after the court determines material to be erotic, sells, distributes, or exhibits the erotic material to a minor shall be guilty of violating RCW 9.68.050 through 9.68.120 […]”
Valve could have come under very hefty fines had the games stayed on the service uncensored.
Later in the summer Valve also wiped out a number of other sexually explicit games from the database during a purge of shovelware and cloneware.
Valve is now seemingly under tough scrutiny after the Christian groups took aim at them for what they claimed was pornography. Hopefully we’ll get some clear cut rules on how uncensored patches will be distributed on the platform when Valve finally explains how that aspect of the service will operate. On the upside Pickett explained that so far Valve hasn’t been policing user posts containing uncensored patches, saying…
“So far Valve has not made any demands that developers police Steam Discussion boards to remove unofficial discussion or links to adult patches.”
In the meantime, you can check out sub-Reddits on Steam such as SteamUncensored to find the latest uncensored patches and instructions for installing the patches for games sold on Steam.