Valve has also removed all the developer’s games from Steam.
Supposed SWAT simulator, Active Shooter, a game in which you could play the role of ‘the actual shooter’ in a school shooting style incident has been removed from Steam just days before its June 6 release. Valve has also removed developer, Revived Games entire catalogue of games, which included titles such as White Power: Pure Voltage and Tyde Pod Challenge.
“This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall when he was operating as ‘[bc]Interactive’ and ‘Elusive Team’,” said Valve in a statement.
“Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation.”
The game drew widespread condemnation across the board from mainstream media to anti-gun charities and even spawned an online petition calling on Valve to remove the game from Steam, which attracted around 250,000 signatures. The interesting aspect of this controversy is the fact that a game that initially described itself as a ‘school shooting simulation’, a reference it later dropped, was not removed from the marketplace because of its content, but, as per Valve’s statement, because of the developers previous bad business practices.
These abhorrent and sensationalist marketing tactics might make headlines, as they have in the past with games such as Hatred and Postal, but there’s a deeper issue, one that particularly affects the indie industry. Games such as Active Shooter can give independent developers a bad name and can put into question indie games ability to tackle sensitive subject matter. Indie developer, Felipe Bravo gave us some of his thoughts on the subject.
“In my personal opinion, the biggest issue with a game like ‘Active Shooter’ is that it is exactly the same as ‘Air Control’ and many other recent games. The developers buy assets, put them in an empty space inside a game engine and sell them as a new product.”
“This product does not meet the standards of quality that the buyers deserve; they may work as a learning project but not as a product in a store.” Said Bravo.
The damage that these shock and profit tactics can have on the indie industry in terms of credibility is clear, but it also raises wider concerns about Valve’s approach to its content policies and how that could affect smaller developers. This has already been seen to a certain extent with recent reports suggesting that Valve has begun to crack down on video games that contain pornographic such as the anime-style visual novels. A number of indie developers claimed that they’d received emails from Valve warning that their games would be removed from Steam if they didn’t censor the offending content, although, according to their claims Valve never informed them specifically what content they wanted to be removed.
“I think Steam needs better quality control, they need to not only look at the games that generate buzz, but all the games that are now referred to as ‘asset flips’. This, in my opinion, will force developers to make better products that costumers will want to buy.”
“I know a lot of fellow developers talk about ‘free speech’ and defend this game, but as I mentioned before, if you are going to tackle a sensitive subject, do it in a sensitive manner.” Said Bravo.
No doubt we’ll see Valve’s broader plans for tighter controls on Steam over the coming months. How these new content policies will go on to affect indie developers and their work is unknown. What is known is that there’s more to this issue than simple censorship, clearly Steam has a number of loopholes that are being exploited, leading to games such as Active Shooter appearing on the platform and potentially damaging the reputation of credible developers.
Once the Editor of The Indie Game Website, Jon now wonders the Earth as a hermit in search of worthy opponents to challenge at Tetris.