[Update 1/24/2019:] According to a Steam post from the developers, Valve told them what the problem was with the game and the developers proceeded to address the issue. They say the game will launch soon.
[Original article:] Qureate and iMel Inc’s NekoMiko was supposed to release at some point in January of 2019. The developers have temporarily set the release date to January 31st, 2019 according to an update in the SteamDB entry.
So why did the developers have to change the release date and why is the game’s release being postponed? Well, due to a Valve review.
According to an update posted back on January 17th, 2019, the developers at Qureate informed the gaming community that the release is delayed indefinitely, much like the visual novel Food Girls, until Valve either approves or denies the release of NekoMiko on Steam. A member of the development staff wrote…
“Valve is currently reviewing it. It seems to take longer than normal review. Please wait for a while until the release if you are looking forward to it.”
Some gamers noticed that the store page had undergone a change, and that two of the more risque images that are available over on the game’s official website were removed from the Steam page, specifically the images featuring the catgirls in their underwear, as depicted below.
Some gamers think that Qureate may end up censoring the game in order to get it on Steam, which is something that the developers of Moe Reversi has attempted to do to get their game on Steam as well.
This could be due to the fact that the main characters in NekoMiko are young-looking catgirls, as depicted in the gameplay trailer below.
Now, over on the main Steam store page there’s a description for the content in the game, and the developers attempt to reiterate that both catgirls are over the age of 18.
In the mature content description section, it reads…
“This Game may contain content not appropriate for all ages, or may not be appropriate for viewing at work: Nudity or Sexual Content, General Mature Content
“All characters involved in sexual content are over the age of 18.”
This sort of disclaimer about the fictional characters being over the age of 18 no longer flies with Valve.
In an e-mail to Dlsite, Valve told the adult-games publisher that even if the developers claim their characters are over the age of 18, if the employees at Valve determine, by their own beliefs, that the game is in a legally gray area, it will be banned. The relevant section of the e-mail states…
“[…] “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. […]”
Obviously a lot of people called out Valve on this policy because games like Senran Kagura Burst Re:Newal just launched on Steam and it literally fits the same kind of definition that would warrant for a ban, and yet it’s not.
So far, the employees at Valve have been targeting smaller Japanese game developers, banning their titles from the Steam store using vague reasoning such as “child exploitation”, while also denying some developers the right to even censor or re-apply for the game to be released on the platform. This is all in spite of the fact that last June Valve said that they would no longer be the “taste police” and that they would use the adult filters to do the curating. However, even when those filters went into play back in September of 2018, shortly thereafter some employees at Valve (mainly Jason Ruymen and Arisa Sudangnoi) have been banning various games from the platform even if they do use the adult filter tag and even if they aren’t illegal or trolling.
For now we’ll see if Valve will force Qureate to censor NekoMiko or outright ban it like other anime games and visual novels. You can learn more about NekoMiko by visiting the game’s Steam store page.
(Thanks for the news tip Ivan Agustin Valencia Acuna)