A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

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A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#1 Post by Kuiper » Fri May 18, 2018 12:25 pm

Update (May 19):

Update from HuniePot Dev: https://twitter.com/HuniePotDev/status/ ... 7977436160
I have just received word from Valve apologizing for the confusion, saying to DISREGARD their previous e-mail about the violation, that they are in the process of re-reviewing the game and will follow up soon.

I should be clear this doesn't mean we're out of the woods. It just means we have an interesting development. Whatever the case, the communication and clarification from Valve is very, very much appreciated.
Update from Lupiesoft: https://twitter.com/Lupiesoft/status/997982926242398208
Lupiesoft has also just received word from Valve that Mutiny!! is being re-reviewed for content, and that the 2 week deadline is off.

We'll update everyone as any more information comes our way.
Update from MangaGamer: https://twitter.com/MangaGamer/status/9 ... 4480052226
Update: We have just received word from Valve to disregard the previous notice. According to the e-mail, Kindred Spirits will be re-reviewed and we will be provided with specific feedback if there are concerns about the game’s content.
Original post (May 18):

Valve has begun what appears to be a mass-removal of games with "adult" content with Steam, focused entirely on games with manga/anime-inspired graphics. (Don't expect this to affect games like GTA, The Witcher, or Dragon Age.)

Huniepot Dev: https://twitter.com/HuniePotDev/status/ ... 1384340482
"I've received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop 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."
MangaGamer: http://blog.mangagamer.org/2018/05/18/r ... y-notices/
We would like to confirm, along with so many other developers who have come forward, that our title, Kindred Spirits, has also been targeted by Steam’s sudden and abrupt content policy shift and has been threatened with removal if the content of the game is not modified.

As you may recall from our own announcements and coverage in several news outlets, we and many others in the industry considered the release of Kindred Spirits unaltered on the platform a positive shift in the treatment of tasteful, mature content on the platform. We stand by our assertion then that content of the game is not pornographic, but an earnest and tasteful exploration of sexuality.

We went to great pains to run the game’s content by Valve representatives––including sending along every potentially questionable graphical asset along with advanced builds of the title––to ensure that that feeling was mutual. The game would have never appeared on the platform if we had not confirmed with Valve representatives that they did not feel the content was pornographic and was appropriate for the platform.

Despite our best efforts to respect both the letter and spirit of Valve’s content guidelines as we were made to understand them, we are wholly in the dark with this latest apparent shift in policy as no clear guidelines or standards have been provided. We will seek to negotiate with Valve to keep Kindred Spirits as-is on the Steam Store to the best of our ability, but failing that we still require guidelines to modify the title and future titles to fit these new, apparently stricter standards.

Regardless of Steam’s content policies, MangaGamer remains committed to excellent games and stories being told as they were meant to be. We have a long history of this commitment in the digital space relative to the majority of our competitors, and we invite any developers and partners who would like to sell on our platform to get in touch at support@mangagamer.com as we prepare to upgrade it in coming months for more clients, partners, and community building. Remember that in buying directly through us, more of your purchase goes directly to the game’s developers rather than a significant portion going to retail platform fees.

We will continue to post developments as they progress on this topic. All press requests should be made to our press director, John Pickett, kouryuu@mangagamer.com.
Lupiesoft: https://twitter.com/Lupiesoft/status/997293788316844032
We've just received some troubling news today that @steam_games has decided to pull down our titled "Mutiny!!" within 2 weeks for 'reports of pornographic content'. Now those of you who know @Lupiesoft know that we don't put that on Steam, or advertise that content on Steam.

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.

It seems this new change violates what Valve agreed to before, and the entirety of the Visual Novel genre on Steam is feeling the effects of this nuclear option. Every developer big & small, no matter how much they followed Steam's guidelines to the letter is having games pulled.

From Huniepop, to SonoHanabira, to Mutiny!!, the message is clear, if your game has sexy anime-inspired art in it, get it gone, while western games which are 100x more pornographic content escape unscathed. One rule for them, and no rules for us.

If you care about these games, please spread the word, let it be known this is not okay. Nothing 'wrong' was done. Everything that @Lupiesoft did in regards to Mutiny!! was fully agreed to by Steam, on behalf of @MangaGamer before we even did it, as did many other devs.

This puts @Lupiesoft in a bad situation. while funding for #DizzyHearts is secure, Mutiny!! was our biggest title, this threatens our future when a platform like @steam_games can decide on a whim to just pull our games even when we follow their guidelines.

This is not normal, this is not okay. Games are being pulled simply because they look a certain way and there is a stigma behind the look of a game. In the future this could easily extend to anyone who even makes visual novels no matter how 'sexy' they might appear to be.

We are not sleazebags making horrific pornography, we're a strongly queer VN studio that makes sexy games, that is not wrong, that is not pornographic, nudity is also not wrong as a massive amount of Steam's library has nudity, and Mutiny!! follows those content guidelines!

This threatens the future livelihood of any developer even wanting to work on Visual Novels in the future, this threatens the very fabric of the medium itself, when THE largest sales platform can just pull your game without justification or reason at any moment.

Speak up.
https://twitter.com/Lupiesoft/status/997310465247035392
The biggest issue is what is Steam defining as pornography, because in the Steam ver. the most pornographic thing in the entire game are topless sprites, and that is it.

If we're defining top nudity as pornography, than thousands of games fit that qualification.

Every GTA game, every God of War, every Witcher game, and thousands more that have nude breasts.

Reality is Mutiny!! is appropriately labeled as having mature content in Steamworks, and our store page is as well.

The only assumption I can make here is anime art = porn. Because Mutiny!! is one of the tamest mature games on Steam.
Last edited by Kuiper on Sat May 19, 2018 9:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#2 Post by Empish » Fri May 18, 2018 4:12 pm

I've also made a video on the subject, which you can view here: https://youtu.be/-6BcqHySoYI

I don't know the games in question and I don't pretend to know exactly what Steam thinks they're doing, but hopefully we can bring a little extra visibility to maybe pressure them into at least explaining themselves.

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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#3 Post by Aviala » Fri May 18, 2018 5:00 pm

I'm really concerned about this. It's very strange that they're only targeting visual novels or games with "anime style" art. Like mentioned above, games like Dragon Age have sex scenes in them - so why only VN's? I wonder if it's to do with the payment providers Steam is using - for example, Paypal has rules regarding to sexual content. But I had understood that they had an agreement that specifically gave Steam games a bit more leeway (don't quote me on this, but I remember reading about it like a year ago).

Porn and games with sex scenes are different. I think it's important for games to be able to explore sex and sexuality because they're important parts of life for many people. Steam really needs to give a statement about this and start treating games equally and not singling out "anime style" games.

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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#4 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri May 18, 2018 5:09 pm

I'd like to point out that Huniepop, is actually pornographic in nature.
Once you reach the final date with a girl and succeed, you then 'take her home', where you play another game of that whatever it is called game, and the girl moans and strips naked as your score increases, eventually she climaxes as you reach the target score.
If that isn't adult content, then I question what is.
Can't say for the rest.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#5 Post by trooper6 » Fri May 18, 2018 5:10 pm

I thought the issue was that HuniePop also advertises the full nudity unlocks also on Steam, no?

Also, I’ve played all the Dragon Age games, and I don’t recall any nipples.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#6 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri May 18, 2018 5:14 pm

I'm guessing its because of patches offered outside of steam. A lot of Japanese game developers I follow have been complaining about it recently on twitter.
Technically, the patch isn't disallowed, but the game still requires the steam platform to run, so maybe Valve is using that as its reason.

I'd be interested to see what that means for games like nekopara, if that is the case.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#7 Post by Empish » Fri May 18, 2018 5:30 pm

I don't judge Steam for what it's overall policy on pornographic content is, but Huniepop has been there for years without any action being taken until now. Combine that with the narrow or even inconsistent application of the policy as far as we can tell, and something's off.

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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#8 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri May 18, 2018 5:40 pm

Not really?
Steam gets thousands of games submitted every month. The team there hasn't got the time to personally inspect every single one with a fine-tooth comb, so if a game violates their TOS, they need to wait for a report to come in before they're even aware of the violation.
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I mean I could be wrong, but my guess is that some unhappy player or group of players, has discovered all these games and decided to report them.

Steam is also notoriously slow at doing anything. I once left my account for a year then logged back in. I was greeted with a 'your account is locked for security reasons', so I had to email support to get it unlocked.

After sending one support ticket every few days, I finally got a response on the 13th day.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#9 Post by Empish » Fri May 18, 2018 6:02 pm

I would probably agree with you except for one thing:

(At least) Two of the games in question had people deliberately meet with Valve representatives to check that the content was acceptable. They were told that they were approved and in the clear, only to have Steam flip on them later. That indicates either a change in policy or some significant pressure someone's exerting to make Steam change their policy.

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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#10 Post by Imperf3kt » Fri May 18, 2018 6:23 pm

I must apologise, it seems there indeed has been a policy change.
https://twitter.com/jastusa/status/9975 ... twterm%5E3

I guess its time to go find the official statement from Valve.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#11 Post by Sunlit-Dreamer » Fri May 18, 2018 9:48 pm


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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#12 Post by D.ray » Fri May 18, 2018 10:10 pm

This is very unfortunate for the games involved. Although I doubt it has anything to due with the games being visual novels or of the anime style. If anything it's probably something less overt. Like steams incompetence and the inconsistent and arbitrary manner in which they seem to enforce their policy. It could also be the payment options set for those games like Aviala mentioned.

I definitely wouldn't be surprised if an individual or group had complained about these games in particular. Doesn't take much make to offend people in the current politically correct landscape. Wouldn't be the first time in recent months when there was an attempt to censor games or the creators involved for whatever reason. Just look at youtube or twitter, it's become a cesspool of unjust censorship, and most times, whatever material is taken down, is taken down without review. It's only after pressure is applied, that any unjust censorship is reversed.(if at all sometimes.) I suspect something similar is happening here.

However, if steam has indeed changed their guidelines or policy that's a different matter. I would assume there would be more games with requests to conform or be removed in the short future if that's the case. Although waiting for valve to make an official statement would probably be a safe bet before jumping to conclusions.

This situation does make a good case why everyone should have their own website for whatever product or service they may offer. You never know when the platform you're on may unjustly censor you, or have changes in their policy that may negatively impact you

Hopefully this whole situation gets resolved without the games having to be removed or censored.

Edit.
Sunlit-Dreamer wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 9:48 pm
Found this on Twitter.

https://endsexualexploitation.org/artic ... -platform/
That's pretty messed up. The ever toxic pc culture strikes again.
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#13 Post by LateWhiteRabbit » Sat May 19, 2018 1:30 am

Imperf3kt wrote:
Fri May 18, 2018 5:40 pm
Not really?
Steam gets thousands of games submitted every month. The team there hasn't got the time to personally inspect every single one with a fine-tooth comb, so if a game violates their TOS, they need to wait for a report to come in before they're even aware of the violation.
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I mean I could be wrong, but my guess is that some unhappy player or group of players, has discovered all these games and decided to report them.
Well, HuniPop wasn't some random game - it was a top seller on Steam for quite a while when it first released. And I'm pretty sure the HuniPop team had direct contact with Valve. Plus, the version of HuniPop on Steam is censored by default and contains no nudity. I think it is a pathetic excuse for Valve to claim they don't know what the content of games are that appear on their top seller charts, or to suddenly remove a game that has been on the platform for YEARS.

And speaking of top sellers on Steam - Grand Theft Auto 5. You can get topless lap dances at a strip club in first person. Not to mention it has male genitals on display in several scenes. But I bet Valve isn't sending letters to Rockstar and removing the game that stays in their Top 50 bestseller list even though it has nudity and sex. Likewise with Witcher 3 and its full nude sex scenes, which are given to the player as a "reward" for advancing a romance with an NPC far enough - just like in the games being removed from Steam.

Valve are giant hypocrites. They'll gladly sell games with sexual content, as long as they are in a Western style and make them lots of money. Worse, this shows you can go through all the proper channels to get Valve representatives to review your game, edit, censor, and change the game to appease them, and they can still revoke your approval at any time with no explanation.

Sure, developers could sell through other platforms like Mangagamer or JAST or DLsite, but those don't have the audience or reach of Steam. So many new fans have been brought to the genre through exposure on Steam - and when the industry leading platform does something like this it has a chilling effect on the whole genre.

I'm so tired of this puritanical crusade on sexuality. You can have games with photorealistic gore and dismemberment and extreme violence and no one bats an eye, but draw two concentric circles and color them pink and companies like Valve lose their mind.

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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#14 Post by jack_norton » Sat May 19, 2018 2:03 am

I just got a notice for my game Roommates :D
The original game was rather tame, but last year in June I added a free bonus content with optional full nudity CGs.
Apparently from what I understood it's a bunch of people who are going around playing the inquisitors, reporting any game they deem "pornographic". I'm sure they play the games very carefully before making their judgement... :wink:
It's a bit random since very tame games like Kindred Spirit got reported, but for example Ladykiller in a bind wasn't.
I believe this is a huge mistake on Valve's part and that it's going to backfire.
Also, what is the point of having those "age gates" on Steam, if then you're going to ask people to pull the game having adult content anyway? :D
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Re: A bunch of visual novels with mature content on Steam are getting pulled/threatened with removal

#15 Post by mikolajspy » Sat May 19, 2018 5:00 am

Now I'm getting worried, I didn't received anything yet about Jake's Love Story, it has just one, tiny fanservice-y scene, but censored by default.

I remember reading an article some time ago, the reason why games like GTA, The Witcher and so on are not taken down is that they're not focused on Adult content.
You can play the game without those, in most cases. Or it's a one scene in hours of main gameplay.
And as you know, games like NEKOPARA originally were focused on unavoidable +18 content, and most of those games are (HuniePop is centered about it). Even if they were censored for Steam, the original might be an issue for Valve.

I think it's also part of culture difference, in west, when people see cartoon (which anime/manga looks similar) people automatically assume it's for kids.
I guess we can expect more takedowns in future, although I agree the whole idea is pointless, especially after few years. People see tags like "nudity" and entire page warning that content might be slightly NSFW, and age-checking and so on...

You know, if they take down enough VNs, all devs can sign petition to take down other games with sexual content as well.
But well, big companies have enough money to not care about it. It's us, small devs that will be hurt the most.

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