September 6, 2018 // 11:24 a.m.
Valve has announced a change to the way it handles adult content on its Steam digital distribution platform, asking publishers to add context to their content in order to better inform potential customers.
Traditionally, adult content on Valve's Steam distribution platform is - like with the majority of its rivals - locked behind a soft age gate in which browsers are simply told that the content on display may not be suitable for all ages. A quick entry of the user's birth date - or any random date that would put the user above the age of 18, anyway - and the content is then displayed, but until it is the user is left in the dark as to whether the warning of 'Nudity/Sexual Content' is as mild as a quick flash of a character's nip or because they've "accidentally" clicked on an ero anime dating sim.
It's this uncertainty as to exactly what you're going to see that Valve is aiming to fix in its latest Steam update. 'We're [...] now requiring developers of games with violent or sexual content to describe the content of their game, and we're using that information to help you decide whether a game is something you're comfortable with,' explains Valve's Tom Bui of the update. 'We think the context of how content is presented is important and giving a developer a place to describe and explain what's in their game gives you even more information when browsing and considering a purchase. When you're looking at the store page of a game with mature content, we'll display that developer-written description to you. We're also displaying it on the interstitial page we show you if you ever follow a direct link from outside steam to a game that should be filtered for you'
The change comes hand-in-hand with new filter features, increasing the number of tags available for content filtration from three to 10 and adding a general Mature Content filter and Adults Only filter to the existing Violence/Gore and Nudity/Sexual Content filters.
The changes are live on the platform now, part of what Bui describes as a 'strategy of shipping features as they're finished, and posting periodic updates as to the nuts and bolts and the thinking behind their development'.
More information is available on the Steam announcement post.