Monster Mashing Deluxe was banned from Steam back on April 17th, 2019. The reason? We don’t know. Valve didn’t say. In fact, the developers at Demins had no idea why the game was banned or that it was even banned until after it happened. I was able to ask them a few questions about getting the game on Steam, Valve’s approval process, and what sort of rules are in place for adult games. According to the developers, Valve doesn’t have any set rules in place regarding adult content.
Cameron Taylor, better known in the development community as ninja_muffin99, answered a few questions about Monster Mashing Deluxe being removed from Steam. During a brief e-mail exchange ninja_muffin99 explained that he was unsure if Valve even notified them about the ban, and they only found out when they attempted to access the Steam partner backend…
“I’m unsure if Valve even contacted us when we got banned. The storepage was gone for a few days before we were able to check the Steam partner backend, and it was only then when we found out we were out right banned. And when I was “able to check the steam backend” I mean we were just busy and whatnot lolol. At first we thought it was a simple glitch so I suppose we felt like it’d figure itself out.”
A lot of other developers seemed to have found out in a similar way, oftentimes going to Twitter to express their frustrations or in some cases making a blog post about the future of their games following the ban. In some rare cases, developers will even lash out at Valve about what they perceive to be discrimination.
In the case of Monster Mashing Deluxe, they did reach out to Valve about getting the game unbanned, but Valve wouldn’t even give them any leeway because they felt that Demins would try to skirt around the rules. ninja_muffin99 explained…
“The response from Valve came pretty quickly, at least compared to any other time we’ve needed to contact them. The response was basically even if we change what they thought was wrong (by redoing or replacing artwork) they assumed we would just try to “wiggle around the grey areas”. They closed all the support threads and we haven’t been in contact since then.”
So what was so bad about the game that it had to be banned?
We don’t know.
The major issue is that this was what we colloquially call the “all-ages” version of the game, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s for little kids, but rather that it has no explicit content and no hardcore sexual material. Games that contain explicit content are usually referred to as “R18+”.
According to ninja_muffin99, they censored out as much as they could for the Steam rendition of the game, and that was actually due to an exclusivity deal they signed with Nutaku. Ninja_muffin99 stated…
“The fully uncensored version of the game was NOT submitted to Steam. This is only because we have this sorta exclusivity contract with Nutaku for the first 6 months or so. The non-nude version didn’t show the nipples or vaginas of the monster girls, it was censored with ripped cloth. After the exclusivity contract was done with Nutaku, we were planning on somehow getting the uncensored stuff onto all the platforms we have it on so far (Itch.io, and Steam) as a free update. Also the Steam version was integrated with the Steam API for leaderboards and medals, where as Nutaku doesn’t have any sort of API like that.”
But Monster Mashing Deluxe isn’t the only all-ages game that has been banned, withheld, or prohibited from release on Steam. We’ve cataloged a number of titles over on the banned game list where they were already censored when submitted to Steam but they were still banned once they neared release.
Of course, the most common sense question out of all of this is: why would Valve even allow these games on Steam if they’re just going to ban them later?
We don’t know.
Monster Mashing Deluxe was one of those games.
They submitted it to Steam and Valve approved the storefront to go live. The only issue they had at the time was with the trailer, with ninja_muffin99 explaining…
“For the storepage, they were a bit vague. We did have problems with getting the storepage up for quite some time, because of the trailer. The trailer showed ‘implied nudity’ which was the part where the girls clothes were ripped and whatnot. It took us a long while before Valve told us what the issue was with the trailer, and that’s why you see that “TOO HOT FOR STEAM” censor over some parts of the trailer heheh.”
But if you think there’s some kind of written rules about what kind of content is allowed on Steam and what isn’t… well, there are no rules.
Valve is still reportedly operating on the “no trolling and nothing illegal” ruleset, even though they’ve been defying it for a number of titles that are neither trolling nor illegal, such as The Key To Home, which was banned twice.
According to ninja_muffin99, if you have plans on submitting an adult game, or even the all-ages version, you have no specific guidelines in which to operate…
“[…] As for telling us what’s allowed, they don’t have any sort of visible rule book for adult games on Steam. I was pretty much just going off the assumption of what they’ve said in one of the announcements where “anything isn’t a troll game or illegal will be allowed on Steam”. I didn’t think we were either so I assumed we were safe. But to answer this question no after the storepage was approved we didn’t have contact with them until after the game was banned.”
Valve’s lack of rules mean they can dictate what gets onto the store and what doesn’t, and there’s no way to know if your game will be allowed no matter how tame it is. For instance, the all-ages version of Food Girls was withheld from release because Valve forced the developers to remove a loli character. In other cases, simply having the game set in a high school is enough to have Valve ban it from Steam. For games like Victory Project, the game neither contained lolis nor was it set in a high school and it was still banned. There’s basically no rhyme or reason to some of the bans, and it’s completely up to whoever is reviewing the game that day.
After learning this hard and reasonably unfair lesson from dealing with Valve, they’re still going to keep trucking on. When asked about diversifying the availability of Monster Mashing Deluxe across various other adult storefronts, ninja_muffin99 said that it’s likely once the exclusivity period with Nutaku is up…
“This is likely, but we might wait until the Nutaku exclusivity for the uncensored version is done (sometime during the summer) just so that we can release with full nudity and whatnot. The game is pretty much ready to be swapped over from one site to another (we released on Itch.io, Newgrounds, Nutaku, and Steam, so we have pretty good code for making whatever changes needed for different sites), so all we’d need to do is actually get in contact and see what happens from there.”
Valve has been coy about responding to any inquiries about their policies; about why certain games get banned and others don’t; about what guidelines are in place to determine what’s allowed and what isn’t. The multiple times I’ve reached out I’ve never received a response. Right now it doesn’t seem like Valve is compelled to talk about the rules (or lack thereof) regarding the adult titles that appear on the store or the ones that get banned from appearing on the store.
On the upside, Monster Mashing Deluxe is still currently available right now in all its uncensored glory over on the Nutaku store page.