Steam will not be responsible for garbage
Steam’s announcement that they will publish literally anything that isn’t illegal or trolling seems subtle. To gamers, the announcement sounds like Steam is finally embracing their role as a purveyor of half-baked shovelware. But there are some nuances to think about.
What Steam is actually saying is that they will no longer make any attempt to censor or police any of the games they offer. To me, this makes sense. One person’s trash is another’s treasure (learn the difference here). Steam can’t really say that a certain game is objectively bad and another is good. That’s just wrong. Leave that kind of judgmental behavior to GOG.
And I’m sure it’s no coincidence Steam’s announcement came hot on the heels of the Active Shooter controversy. For those of you fortunate enough to stay hidden from social media, Active Shooter was an indie game in which players can reenact a school shooting. This was met with predictable outrage and I even had some things to say about it. In the end, Steam dropped their support and canceled the release of Active Shooter.
And now we have Steam’s announcement.
No more censorship. No more controversy. If developers want to make a game where they mass-murder children, that’s the developer’s problem. If you want to make a game where you deep fry your neighbor’s dog and feed it to your sick grandma without telling her, that’s whatever. A money-laundering tycoon sim or a terrorist-recruitment sim? Those are fine too, as long as they aren’t illegal. Maybe walking the line with those.
Oh yeah, and you can put all the sex you want into games now.
So for consumers, it’s likely that the already-inundated Steam storefront will have a surge of over-the-top games from developers looking to capitalize on this latest development in Steam’s policy.
But Steam’s announcement also makes it clear that Steam will allow any garbageware onto their platform. They don’t want to be concerned with limiting the amount of crap clogging up their store. Not that they ever were. They don't care.
With the floodgates now officially and unapologetically open on Steam, developers will have a harder time than ever competing for shelf space against an endless onslaught of crapware.
The only ones (besides Valve) that benefit from Steam's announcement are the indie game PR and marketing mercenaries. Indie devs are going to need professional marketing help more than ever before if they want to get their game noticed in the crowd.