Simon Creative and STORIA’s Food Girls: You Can Eat The Girl, is a visual novel about some young girls attempting to save a snack street marketplace from closure. The quirky novel is based on Taiwanese culture, but apparently Valve doesn’t see it as an innocent gaming experience.
According to Simon Creative, the game has failed Valve’s review process three times since submitting the game back in November of 2018. The game’s Steam store page is still active, and it shows that it was supposed to release back on December 14th, 2018. They still haven’t been told what exactly it is that is preventing the release, and they’re not sure what they have to do to fix it.
Some speculate that the developers adding the “Sexual Content” and “Nudity” tags to the Steam database entry is what’s preventing it from being released. However, there are plenty of other all-ages versions of visual novels that have the “Nudity” or “Sexual Content” tag that don’t actually contain R18+ content in the Steam release, such as Nekopara Vol. 1.
According to GNN, a Taiwanese gaming website, the developers explained to them…
“I originally expected to complete the voice production, and put the game on the Steam platform in December 2018. However, since late November 2018, Steam officially launched an intensive review of the role of underage characters. Asia customarily sees the roles of the characters advertised as 20-years-old for adults or non-human types, etc., and are not included in the reference, the examiner will judge according to the appearance of the character’s role. There are many Japanese-style games from teams [Editor’s note: the usage of 日系 can refer to Japanese businesses or schools, but here it’s referring to Japanese-style games with school settings] overseas on Steam, the review process usually results in these games being unsuccessful for release or put on hold. There are also situations in which the game is taken off the Steam store and no long available for sale sometimes after being available for around a week.”
This is true.
There have been some games that were available on Steam but then were banned shortly after launch. I believe Simon Creative could be referring to MaoMao Discovery Team, which released on Steam back in November, 2018, but then was banned a day later.
Quite a few games were actually banned following Valve implementing adult filters for Steam games back in September of 2018. The filters were supposed to enable adult games to be sold on Steam and inaccessible to anyone underage. However, even with the filters in place, games were still being banned, specifically anime-style games from indie teams and visual novels.
Some developers intimated that Valve had privately informed some developers that “school settings” and “child exploitation” would likely result in a ban. We have been seeing this applied to quite a few games recently, including My Erotic Summer and Moe Reversi.
In the case of My Erotic Summer, the game did feature R18+ content and a main character who appeared to be a shota (or a young boy), while Moe Reversi was an ecchi board game that was banned, even though it contained no nudity or sexual content.
Other games that were the all-ages versions of the game, such as Niplheim’s Hunter, Victory Project and Hello, Goodbye, were also indefinitely delayed for a while. In the case of Niplheim’s Hunter the game neither contained lolis nor school settings, but Valve later reinstated the game and claimed that it was all just a “misunderstanding”. You can now purchase Niplheim’s Hunter from the Steam store. Unfortunately, the other two games are still indefinitely delayed.
The developer of Moe Reveri is hoping that there is some intervention because he told One Angry Gamer that many Japanese developers are unable to read or write English very well and it makes it very difficult to fill out the forms since all the forms are in English, much like Sony’s censorship policies.
In the case of Food Girls, we don’t know exactly why the game has been postponed for so long. Usually when this happens Valve eventually bans the game. Hopefully Simon Creative can find a way to get the game on Steam, but lately Valve’s resident “Rogue Employees”, Jason Ruymen and Arisa Sudangnoi, have been making it difficult for certain games to get released, even if they don’t contain any porn.
There is some hope for developers, however. Top Hat Studios is opening their own digital distribution storefront for normal and adult oriented games. For affected indie developers it might be wise to check out the Top Hat Studios shop.
(Thanks for the news tip Suikadin)