Steam, one of the largest online video game stores in the world, will now “allow everything” short of content that’s “illegal or straight up trolling.”
The decision comes just weeks after the platform, which is owned by video game developer Valve, was forced to take down a game which simulated a school shooting.
Steam contains thousands of games for PC, and is the main online library of content for virtual reality headsets like the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Writing in a lengthy blog post, Valve employee Erik Johnson explained why the company had taken this decision.
“Recently there’s been a bunch of community discussion around what kind of games we’re allowing onto the Steam Store.” He writes.
“As is often the case, the discussion caused us to spend some time examining what we’re doing, why we’re doing it, and how we could be doing it better. Decision making in this space is particularly challenging, and one that we’ve really struggled with.”
Johnson goes on to explain that essentially Valve has decided that it’s not up to them to decide what content is or isn’t allowed on its platform.
“So what does this mean?” He writes. “It means that the Steam Store is going to contain something that you hate, and don’t think should exist. Unless you don’t have any opinions, that’s guaranteed to happen.”
The decision doesn’t mean that Steam will start allowing games like the school shooting simulation that caused so much controversy, but it does open up Steam to pornographic games, and titles that could be considered offensive.
Rather than taking a hands-on approach with the problem, Valve’s solution is to simply let its users decide by choosing to buy the game or not.
Valve have said that by not policing the platform as much they’ll be able to develop tools that better allow you to see the games you want to, and hide the types of content you don’t want to see. It will even start developing tools to help support developers who are looking to create controversial games.
Finally Johnson points out that this decision does not mean Valve is supporting or endorsing the content it features.
“If you see something on Steam that you think should not exist, it’s almost certain that someone at Valve is right there with you.” He explains.
For parents who are worried about what this could mean for their children using the platform, Steam does have some parental control features available.
Family View allows you to create a Steam account for your child and then impose certain restrictions onto that account. These can vary from blocking access to the online store altogether, or allowing them to only access certain genres or types of video game.