Steam’s Rogue Visual Novels Bans and Inconsistencies

Steam is the most popular PC game store, holding a significant portion of the platform’s gaming market. An attractive prospect for developers, but with a caveat: they know that selling games depends on them, so they don’t have to listen to publishers’ demands. And with visual novels and some adult titles (often of Eastern origin), there’s an ongoing fear of banning Steam.

Before the premiere, Valve must certify the content of the game, and that’s when the bans appear. The titles may contain controversial elements, some of which may be political, sexual or other. Steam has a fairly relaxed approach to cure most of the time, allowing it to release very questionable titles on its platform, such as resource flipping and random erotic puzzle games. However, when it comes to sex games, even major Japanese classics have suffered from being unable 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-age edition (i.e. no erotic content) with an external patch. Consequently, publishers would be able to maintain substantial sales while allowing players to enjoy the original content if they wanted to. More titles tested the waters frequently to see what could hold up until Valve decided to change its policy in 2018.

Valve has opened a special section in the store dedicated to games “Only for adults”. Steam will finally open the gates to more sexual exploration titles, a promised oasis after years of trial and error from companies. Valve even went so far as to say, “The Steam Store will have something you hate and don’t think it should exist,” and preached about the right to vote.

However, years after this shift in attitude, Steam’s process of selecting what can be published and what will be permanently banned still feels like a stranger. There is a staggering variety out there, and a few of the titles have some non-intimidating and potentially offensive content. This apparent lack of restrictions makes the unspoken rules of prohibitions even more difficult to understand.

Muramasa's full metal demon

I don’t think anyone will be particularly sad about losing D: \ HENTAI \ Anime \ Japan \ Memes \ Shooter, Hentai story purpleand a few other small uncut titles. Unfortunately, however, this is not the only type of game that suffers from their decisions. Good titles like Actor Meteor World, Number II, Amatsutsumiand Abaddon: Princess of Decaywere not allowed on the store’s website.

Even one of the most classic visual novels of all time Muramasa’s full metal demon, Steam access was denied. Not only was it published on the JAST store, but the game is now available on GOG, a much more restrictive and carefully curated storefront. While this partnership and GOG’s opening of doors to adult games is a welcome opportunity for these publishers, in fact, JAST has lost a fundamental sales pillar as many players will not be looking for these alternative storefronts.

Full metal streamer Daemon Muramasa

Even though JAST Store and GOG are DRM-free platforms and allow regional pricing – sometimes a necessary asset to Steam for non-US players, their market share is much smaller. The result is an unfortunate reality where publishers and creators of this type of content live in constant fear of Valve’s vague rules gnawing on their butt. What looks like a dice roll could mean that the kamige you’ve been waiting for will never appear on Steam.

I still remember the days of Heliodor Actor Meteor World was banned. I didn’t know about the game, but it looked fantastic from what I could deduce from the opening video. His rejection consumed my thoughts for months until Shiravune announced John’s release. I checked out the game and frankly this is a world I love too much and want to see more. Although I didn’t know it yet, the ban left a hole in my chest that the official release managed to fill. I shudder at the thought that they might just cancel it.

Meteor world actor 8

Years later, Shiravune released a sequel, Meteor World actor: badge and dagger… and it’s now on Steam. Put simply, as someone who played the original, let me tell you that there has never been anything wrong with the game. Although, you can come up with good arguments to dismiss titles like Camp buddy (main characters look like minors) or Muramasa’s full metal demon (lots of incompatible things gets a mess) MWA would be okay.

JAST even made a streaming version Muramasa’s full metal demonand Steam has still rejected that censored version. Right now they are doing their best to make sure BL is playing Slow damage gets a Steam release, and it must be a terrible process for their team. There is too much weight here, because even a small mistake can mean too much loss. A simple dialogue could fix this, but as far as previous recordings are concerned, there doesn’t seem to be enough feedback or opportunities to improve things.

Just a few months ago, we also had another interesting case that illustrates the strange situation of the Steam rules. In June To the Heart 2: Dungeons of the Travelers 2 the resources appeared on SteamDB, which means the game has been blocked. We didn’t have an official announcement for this game to be released on Steam, but it’s surprising that the game has been posted on Vita and has an ESRB rating. Even if the PC version was going to bring back the censored parts, this is a game that should have a chance to be released.

HEAD OF CHAOS 2

Recently, SteamDB registered traffic on Chaos; Noah head a page that suggests Valve may have refused to release. Official sources have not confirmed this, so take this information with a grain of salt. However, if they banned the game and there’s no flip, that’s the biggest mistake in their long inconsistency case.

Chaos; Head is the first game in one of the most popular series of visual novels: the Science Adventure series. Other later titles are popular Beer mugs; Gate, Chaos; Child and Robotics; Notesall of which are available on Steam. Chaos; Headhowever, it had a disturbing backstory that made it purportedly “impossible release,” but here we are with the game on the brink of coming.

Potential motivations for the ban would likely come from the school age of the heroes who were accompanied by Takumi’s erotic visions. A big part of the game is manipulating the reality around him by delving into delusions. On the one hand, they are happy to get horny (a natural aspect of his teenage hormones). On the other hand, negative ones can make him distrustful of people, triggering paranoia and some instinctive descriptions of death.

Noah, Head of Chaos 4

As with other games in the series, it doesn’t even try to get beyond the tape of “adult only” sexual content. Interestingly, the title will appear on the Switch in a double package with Chaos; Child. This means it will be rated by the ESRB, likely to receive an M due to its serious content, which should not be a problem for Steam. Hopefully the whole situation isn’t as serious as it seems, or Valve is open to negotiation with Spike Chunsoft.

Even so, whether the game was really banned or not, Steam’s situation with an inconsistent rating remains. The current scenario is one of the adult-only publishers who live in fear, gamers lose great titles, and a visible lack of proper dialogue.

I don’t have a solution to that, but hopefully this article has helped some of you to let some of you know what’s going on, so it’s worth paying attention to the bans and gems that are having a hard time finding a store that properly accounts for their value.

Leave a Reply