DLsite launched Ayura Crisis! back in mid December, 2018 on their own digital distribution platform. The adult-oriented side-scroller featured a small-chested female character battling against foes and engaging in hardcore pixelated sexual encounters. DLsite attempted to launch the game on Steam but it was denied entry. According to a letter sent to Dlsite, the publisher of the game, Valve banned Ayura Crisis! because it contained “prurient representation or exploitation of minors”.
Back on January 10th, 2019, this information was revealed in a thread on the Steam community forums by DLsite, who shared an e-mail from Valve explaining why Ayura Crisis! was banned, and why the company is now going back to releasing censored games on the platform while providing off-site R18+ patches.
The e-mail from Valve stated…
“After review, we will not be able to ship your game ***** on Steam. While we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we found that this title features themes, imagery or descriptions that we won’t distribute.
“Regardless of a developer’s intentions with their product, we will not distribute content that appears, in our judgment, to trade in the prurient representation or exploitation of minors.
“While every product submitted is unique, if your product features this representation — even in a subtle way that could be defined as a “grey area” — it will be rejected by Steam.
“We are not interested in working with partners that dance around the edges of what’s legal. For instance, setting your game in a high-school but declaring your characters are of legal age would fall into that category and be banned.
“This app has been banned and cannot be reused.”
Dlsite pointed to the Steam Partners terms of service page for onboarding software to the Steam client, which describes the kind of content that Valve does not allow on the platform.
What’s more is that Valve’s citation of “prurient representation” comes from the Washington State obscenity laws definition from section 7.48A.10, which vaguely states…
“Prurient” means that which incites lasciviousness or lust.”
This is how the reviewers, Jason Ruymen and Arisa Sudangnoi, justified banning games like The Key To Home. The game was rated ‘T’ for Teen but was still denied release on Steam because the reviewers claimed that the characters in the game were portrayed in “sexually” suggestive ways that exploited minors, regardless of the fact that the game contained no nudity, had no sexual content, and featured no fan-service.
However, some indie developers would later reveal to One Angry Gamer that Valve was selectively banning games that featured “child exploitation” and certain games set in “schools”.
This raised obvious questions from gamers who noted that other games like Rockstar Games’ Bully, or Marvelous Entertainment’s Senran Kagura series, or Spike Chunsoft’s Danganronpa series, also fall into the same categories as the games that were banned, since they also feature school settings and – using Valve’s loose interpretation of the meaning – “child exploitation”, yet those games aren’t banned, and neither are a number of other games that fall into similar categories from larger publishers.
Worse yet is that the developer of the game, q2000018, lamented on Twitter how Valve’s lack of explanation as to what made Ayura Crisis! violate the “child exploitation” standard left him with no way to know what to fix or remove, so there was no way that they could censor certain content to get it on Steam.
— q2000018 (@q20000181) January 11, 2019
In the tweet, q20000818 states…
“Regarding [the game containing] child exploitation/sexual expression, there was nothing specifically referencing which part [of the game] contained the child exploitation. Inquiring for an acceptable answer was not possible, and it was determined that the game could not be sold. From here on, even if I try to reapply [for the game’s acceptance on Steam] it was clearly communicated that it would not be allowed.”
Basically, unlike what happened with HappyHand where Valve initially denied the release on the game until they completely removed a certain character (although this was later corrected by Valve, who called it a “misunderstanding“), for DLsite’s Ayura Crisis!, there was no other alternative given and there was no possibility for even applying censorship to get the game on Steam.
So some reviewers at Steam will simply deem some games unacceptable for the platform, and no matter what some developer projects will be barred regardless of what they try to do to remedy the situation.
Clearly, it’s quite obvious now that Valve truly has become the “taste police”, even with the adult filters in place that was supposed to allow R18+ games on the platform that weren’t “illegal” or “straight-up trolling”.
(Thanks for the news tip WarOnFanservice)