Steam’s unfair bans on visual novels and their inconsistency

Steam is the most popular PC gaming storefront, holding a sizable share of the platform’s gaming market. An interesting prospect for developers, but with a caveat: they know game sales depend on them, so they don’t have to listen to publisher demands. And for visual novels and some adult-oriented titles (often those of Eastern origin), there’s a constant fear of facing Steam bans.

Before launch, Valve has to certify the game’s content, and that’s when the bans happen. Titles may include controversial material, some of which may be political, sexual or otherwise. Steam has a considerably lax approach to curating most of the time, allowing highly questionable titles such as asset flips and random erotic puzzle games to release on their platform. However, when it comes to games with sex, even the great Japanese classics have suffered the fate of not being able to launch on Steam.

Once upon a time, no adult content was allowed on the store page, but that didn’t stop developers and publishers from having an all-ages edition (as in, no sexual content) with an external fix. Thus, the publisher would manage to maintain significant sales while allowing players to enjoy the original content if they so wished. More titles were often testing the waters to see what might stick until, in 2018, Valve decided to change its policy.

Valve has opened a special section in the store dedicated to “Adults-Only” games. Steam would finally open the doors to more titles exploring sexual content, a promised oasis after years of corporate trial and error. Valve even went so far as to say that the “Steam Store is going to contain something you hate that you think shouldn’t exist” and to preach the right to have a voice.

However, years after this shift in stance, Steam’s process of selecting what can be released and what will be permanently banned still feels alien. There’s a staggering variety, with several titles having shamelessly disturbing and potentially offensive content. This apparent lack of boundaries makes the unspoken rules of prohibitions even harder to grasp.

Full Metal Demon Muramasa

I don’t think anyone is particularly sad to miss D:HENTAIAnimeJapanMemesShooter, hentai story purple, and a few other small, unpolished-looking titles. Unfortunately, however, that’s not the only game type that suffers from their decisions. Quality titles such as Meteor World Actor, Evenicle II, Amatsusumiand Abaddon: Princess of Decaywere not allowed on the store page.

Even one of the most classic visual novels of all time, Full Metal Demon Muramasa, was denied entry to Steam. Not only was it released on the JAST Store, but the game is currently available on GOG, a much more restrictive and carefully curated storefront. While this partnership and GOG’s opening up to adult games is a welcome opportunity for these publishers, the reality is that JAST has lost a fundamental pillar of sales as many gamers won’t seek out these alternative storefronts.

Full Metal Daemon Muramasa Streamer

Even though the JAST Store and GOG are DRM-free platforms and allow regional pricing – a sometimes necessary perk of Steam for gamers outside the US, their market share is much smaller. The result is an unfortunate reality in which publishers and developers of this type of content live in constant fear of Valve’s unclear rules biting them in the ass. What feels like a roll of the dice may mean the kamige you’ve been waiting for will never arrive on Steam.

I still remember when Heliodor’s Meteor World Actor was banned. I didn’t know the game, but it looked fantastic from what I could gather from the opening video. His rejection consumed my thoughts for months until Shiravune announced Johren’s release. I reviewed the game, and it’s honestly a world I love too much and want to see more of. Even though I didn’t know it yet, the ban left a hole in my chest that the official release managed to fill. I shudder to think they could have just canceled it.

Meteor World Actor 8

Years later, Shiravune released the sequel, Meteor World Actor: Badge and Dagger…and it’s on Steam now. Simply put, as someone who played the original, let me tell you: there was never a problem with the game in the first place. Although you can find good arguments to dismiss titles such as camp buddy (main characters look like minors) or Full Metal Demon Muramasa (a lot of non-consensual stuff, it gets messy), MWA would be perfectly fine.

JAST even made a streamable version of Full Metal Demon Muramasa, and Steam has always rejected this censored version. At the moment they are doing their best to make sure the BL game Slow damage gets a Steam release, and it must be an excruciating process for their team. There’s too much weight here, because even a minor mistake could mean losing too much. A simple dialogue could fix this, but when it comes to previous recordings, there doesn’t seem to be enough feedback or opportunity to fix things.

Just a few months ago, we also had another interesting case that illustrates the strange Steam rules situation. In June, the Inside 2: Dungeon Travelers 2 assets have appeared on SteamDB, indicating that the game has suffered a ban. We haven’t had an official announcement of a Steam release for the RPG, but the amazing part is that the game was released on Vita and has an ESRB rating. Even though the PC version was supposed to restore censored parts, this is a game that should have had a chance of being released.

HEAD OF CHAOS 2

Recently, SteamDB recorded movement on the Chaos; Chief Noah page that suggests Valve may have denied its publication. Official sources have not confirmed this, so take this information with a grain of salt. However, if they banned the game and there is no cancellation of the case, that is the biggest mistake in their long inconsistency case.

Chaos;Head is the first game in one of the most popular visual novel franchises: the Science Adventure series. Other titles that followed include the popular Steins;Door, Chaos;Child and Robotics;Remarksall of which are available on Steam. Chaos;Headhowever, had a disturbing story that made it a so-called “impossible exit,” but here we are with the game about to end.

Potential motivations for the ban would likely stem from the characters’ school age accompanied by Takumi’s erotic visions. A big part of the game is about altering the reality around it by delving into delusions. On one side are the happy ones who can get excited (a natural aspect of his teenage hormones). In contrast, negatives can make him distrustful of people, inducing paranoia and some visceral descriptions of death.

ChaosHead Noah 4

As with other games in the series, it doesn’t even try to go beyond the ‘adults only’ strip of sexual content. Curiously, the title lands on Switch in a double pack with Chaos;Child. That means it will be rated by the ESRB, likely getting an M due to serious content, which shouldn’t be a problem for Steam. Hopefully the bigger picture isn’t as bad as it looks, or that Valve is open to negotiations with Spike Chunsoft.

Still, regardless of whether the game was truly banned or not, Steam’s inconsistent rating situation remains. The current storyline is one of adult-only editors living in fear, with players missing great titles and a seeming lack of proper dialogue.

I don’t have a solution to this problem, but I hope this article has helped inform some of you readers about what’s going on, so you can pay attention to the bans and gems that have been due. hard to find a storefront that correctly considers their value.

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