Steam bans rape game as it ‘poses unknown costs and risks’

Valve has confirmed it will not permit a game that allows players to rape women in a zombie apocalypse to go on sale on its digital store, Steam.

Rather than condemning the game or banning it for its shocking sexual violence content, however, the company says it won’t sell 3D visual novel Rape Day as the game "poses unknown costs and risks" to Valve.

It’s not the first time Valve has struggled with the concept of policing its content. Last year, the company took the extraordinary view of deciding "that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that [it] decide[s] are illegal, or straight up trolling".

"The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it’s about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics – politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on," Valve said back in June 2018. "In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games – like what even constitutes a "game", or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released."

Stating much of its policy "must be reactionary", Valve said it now had to "make a judgement call" on whether or not Rape Day could be accepted onto the Steam given the tremendous pressure coming from both sides of the debate. 

Here’s the statement in full:

"Over the past week you may have heard about a game called ‘Rape Day’ coming soon to Steam," the statement began (thanks, Gamasutra). "Today we’ve decided not to distribute this game on Steam. Given our previous communication around Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store?, we think this decision warrants further explanation.

"Much of our policy around what we distribute is, and must be, reactionary—we simply have to wait and see what comes to us via Steam Direct. We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers. After significant fact-finding and discussion, we think ‘Rape Day’ poses unknown costs and risks and therefore won’t be on Steam.

"We respect developers’ desire to express themselves, and the purpose of Steam is to help developers find an audience, but this developer has chosen content matter and a way of representing it that makes it very difficult for us to help them do that."

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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