Paige FTW: Too Steamy For Steam?

Steam has never been the best place to get your sexy game fix (if that’s what you’re into), but the platform has always housed such titles — like, say, Huniepop (a match-3 game with sexy rewards) or Mutiny!! (a pirate-themed visual novel).

Earlier this week, Steam sent out notices to developers, claiming that their games contained unacceptable pornographic content and would need to be censored or face immediate removal.

It was a strange, out-of-the-blue warning — most, if not all, of these games had been previously cleared as acceptable by Steam, properly labeled and, most weirdly, were already censored. What gives?

There are a few trends to note here. All of the affected developers produce 2-D art games with an anime-influenced art style. No 3-D game developers were targeted in the purge. As internet commentators the world pointed out, Geralt in The Witcher III gets to see a lot of boob and butt on his travels, but no one is out for his blood. Graphic violence is also not in question. 

It ties into a larger, racially charged connection between anime and hentai, a kind of kneejerk moral equivalence that Japanese games are inherently perverse, just based on art style and regardless of what’s happening within the title in question (Genital Jousting, after all, full of uncensored little penises, was not affected by this move).

The National Center for Sexual Exploitation has claimed responsibility and victory for Steam’s action, but whether this is true is less clear.

In the wake of the backlash, Steam sent out emails amending their harsh language and claiming that the titles were simply under re-review and there would be no removal. Yet, even the re-review is questionable for its timing and execution. Steam needs to set its rules and follow them — across the board.