Statement on Valve Corporation’s Call to Modify Mature-oriented Games on Steam from 18 May 2018

This statement was originally issued via Twitter on 19 May 2018. This post is a expanded reproduction of those tweets, updated to reflect new developments. It is solely the opinion of the author and does not represent any third parties.

I would like to address all of my followers on the many titles currently being considered for depublication from Steam over concerns of suggestive content. I must begin by emphasizing that the following is solely my own opinion and does not represent any third parties. I have chosen to issue this statement on Twitter directly rather than my personal blog to maximize visibility. This is a statement focused on how the ongoing situation has affected me personally.

Valve’s initial decision to recall mature titles it has previously deemed suitable for Steam by 31 May 2018 has inflicted unprecedented hardship on impacted developers and publishers. The most notable of these developers include Lupiesoft (Mutiny!!), HuniePot (HuniePop), NEKO WORKs (Tropical Liquor), and MangaGamer (A Kiss For The Petals, Kindred Spirits on the Roof). The implications it presents on relationships with the operators of largest digital storefront have been discussed at length. However, as the localization supervisor for A Kiss For The Petals – Maidens of Michael, currently the only title in question not available on Steam, I feel that my situation is unique and must be shared as widely as possible.

On 28 April 2018, I issued a statement on the depublication of A Kiss For The Petals – Maidens of Michael on 8 March. As of this writing, no further progress has been reported on efforts to reinstate it. I felt a sense of responsibility as my foremost work in the visual novel field became the subject of controversy after two weeks on Steam. The same fate loomed over a multitude of works from multiple companies, and that feeling multiplied tenfold.

While no link has been demonstrated between the removal of Maidens of Michael on Steam and the threat of depublication of titles that have been similarly marketed for mature content, there are too many parallels between these situations to ignore. The very possibility that the controversy with Maidens of Michael resulted in this situation renewed the feelings of remorse I had with the former. I was once again overwhelmed with anguish over a situation defined by uncertainty, and I withdrew from social media again. I can only hope that my followers deem me deserving of their forgiveness for this repeated silence mere months after a similar situation.

With all of this said, I must add my own observations to this matter. While it is easy to conclude that the potential fate of the newly threatened titles could have mirrored that of Maidens of Michael, there are distinct differences between the two scenarios. Maidens of Michael was retracted from sale by Valve Corporation on 8 March with no prior notice or a formal reason for this decision issued. After over two months, there have been no responses to MangaGamer over the possibility of reinstating it. MangaGamer informed customers of the depublication via a tweet on 10 March and a later full statement on their staff blog on 9 April. There has been some coverage of the incident with Maidens of Michael on Steam by enthusiast websites, but no press whatsoever from any major publications that cover electronic entertainment.

By contrast, Valve issued an ultimatum via e-mail to multiple developers, including MangaGamer, to revise the content of many releases by 31 May. The stated reason for this is “reports of sexual content”, which many believe were not made in good faith. These developers made this sudden decision public at once, and their customers quickly acted to protest it. The most publicized responses are from developers who refuse to comply with demands to delete content and those who point out that very high-profile titles (Grand Theft AutoThe Witcher 3) are seemingly exempt from said reports.

It is this aspect of the situation that pains me the greatest. All of these titles were given a large window to rectify perceived infractions of Steam content policy, but Maidens of Michael was given no such chance. Maidens of Michael has been damaged the greatest by Valve’s decisions, but the lack of warning for its removal has also resulted in it getting the smallest amount of support from customers and the media. I fear it may never get the redemption these other titles are working for. The decidedly more publicized titles targeted by this new decision have been covered widely in multiple major news sources, including those that do not regularly cover mature content from Japanese developers or inspired by Japanese media (Destructoid, Gamasutra, Kotaku, PC Gamer, Polygon, Rock, Paper, ShotgunSiliconera). As a result, they are rapidly gaining support and awareness while the first title to suffer this fate remains largely unknown to the public. Of the news sources listed above, only Destructoid has given mention to Maidens of Michael, by virtue of reaching out to MangaGamer directly. This is currently the only public mention of A Kiss For The Petals in regard to this situation and any prior removal of a title from Steam for sexual content.

On 20 May, updates were issued by all developers involved that Valve has retracted the order to modify the content of the targeted products and to await manual review, but the situation with Maidens of Michael remains entirely unchanged. All communication from Valve has been through messages to developers, rather than any public statement from Valve directly. This has allowed the developers to relay the status of their works directly to their customers, and it is these reactions that have been reported by the media. Indeed, the reversal of Valve’s initial order was widely celebrated and discussed by fans, though as of this writing a final decision regarding these works has not been issued. No further communication from Valve regarding Maidens of Michael has been reported since 8 March.

The question on why these works were given an opportunity that Maidens of Michael has been definitively denied was too crushing for me to contemplate. Many individuals have worked actively to protect their work, but I have not been so fortunate as to even be allowed to try. Even if all of these titles should ultimately face total removal from Steam at any point in the future, their efforts in resisting it will be remembered by the media and the customers. As these works enjoy renewed publicity as a result of this entire saga, I will have nothing to show for my own work except this admission of resentment over my inability to do the same.

I sincerely apologize that my sole contribution to the discussion of the future of mature products on Steam is an account of personal grief and envy.

I sincerely apologize to the developers who had been affected, for my support for your work has not been sufficient. I wish the best for your endeavors in standing for your work, even if it will mean eschewing Steam entirely.

As I wrote on my previous statement, I am contemplating what my future in the field of visual novels should be, and how the value I placed in A Kiss For The Petals should continue to affect me in light of these events. With this latest development, I fear the search could continue indefinitely.

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