Update, May 20: Developers of adult-themed visual novels say they’ve received notice from Valve that the two-week deadline for censoring their games is now off, and that Valve will “re-review” the games for content and give the developers specific feedback if they find content violations.
Visual novel developer Lupiesoft tweeted Saturday that Valve contacted them and told them to disregard the initial email that gave them two weeks to censor their anime pirate game Mutiny!!. HuniePop developers Huniepot and MangaGamer, developers of Kindred Spirits, both posted similar updates.
While all three developers said they were relieved by the update, HuniePop developer Ryan Koons cautioned that the games aren’t “out of the woods” yet.
Check out our list of the best visual novels on Steam, while you still can.
“It just means we have an interesting development,” he tweeted.
We’ve reached out to Valve for comment on what prompted the sudden scrutiny of visual novels and we’ll update this story if they respond.
Meanwhile, a U.S.-based anti-porn advocacy group has claimed credit for Valve’s move to censor visual novels. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation, formerly known as Morality in Media, posted a press release Friday saying Valve’s move came after a “two year campaign” by the Center to pressure Valve into removing “sexually exploitative content” from Steam. They had placed Valve on their 2018 “Dirty Dozen” list and orchestrated an intensive social media campaign that began May 10th and encouraged users to tweet directly at Valve and Steam.
Without hearing from Valve it’s impossible to know what impact, if any, the NCOSE had on the company’s sudden decision to put visual novels on notice. However, their page about Steam mentions HuniePop by name, as well as several other anime-themed games.
On a separate page, distinct from their Steam campaign, the NCOSE lists big-budget titles like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Mass Effect: Andromeda as also being sexually exploitative. These aren’t included in their Steam campaign, though, and there’s no indication Valve have asked them to censor their adult content.
For now, at least, it appears sexy games have gotten a reprieve, so any impact the campaign might have had is seemingly being revised.
Original story, May 18:Several game developers claim that Valve have asked them to remove sexual content from their games or have them removed from sale on Steam.
The affected games are mainly visual novels and dating sims. HuniePot, makers of dating sim/puzzle game HuniePop, tweeted that they received an email from Valve saying their game “violates the rules & guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content”.
Neko Works, makers of Tropical Liquor, say “we have been informed that adult content in Tropical Liquor must be censored by the end of this month, or the game will be removed from Steam”. To which HuniePot replied, “it’s an anime titty holocaust.”
Lupiesoft, the developers behind sexy pirate adventureMutiny!!,had a longer response which you can read in fullhere. According to them, Steam will be pulling their game in two weeks for “reports of pornographic content”. They claim that they have been “one of the strictest developers in terms of following Steam’s guidelines, and absolutely nothing in Mutiny!! violates their guidelines”. They also say that their publishers MangaGamer met with Valve before the game’s release, and were told their content was “fine on Steam”.
Lupiesoft say they “are not sleazebags making horrific pornography”, but that their game and others like it are being targeted for their Anime-influenced art style, “while western games which are 100x more pornographic content escape unscathed”.
In fact @Lupiesoft has been one of the strictest developers in terms of following Steam's guidelines, and absolutely nothing in Mutiny!! violates their guidelines. After our Steam publisher @MangaGamer met with Valve in person, they were told that ecchi content was fine on steam.
— Lupiesoft (@Lupiesoft) May 18, 2018
In October last year Dharker Studio – also makers of Anime-influenced adult games – were told they could not shareuncensored patches for their games on Steamanymore. A couple of months earlier, the makers of House Party – a western game in which you hit on women in often distasteful ways – had their game pulled from Steam, and were only allowed back on after they turnedHouse Party’s censored modeon by default.
We’ve asked Valve if there has in fact been a recent crackdown on sexual content in games on Steam (“an anime titty holocaust,” if you will), and to clarify their policy with respect to regulating said content.