“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,” it said. “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.”
“Rape Day” is a visual novel from indie developer Desk Plant. It contains 500 images and over 7,000 words enabling the player to “verbally harass, kill, and rape women as [they] choose to progress the story,” according to its now-removed Steam product page. Its content reportedly includes “violence, sexual assault, non-consensual sex, obscene language, necrophilia, and incest.”
“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,” Valve said.
Valve generally adopts a laissez-faire attitude about games published on its platform. It said in a June 2018 blog post it will allow all content as long as it’s not deemed illegal or “straight up trolling.” That announcement came one week after it pulled a game called “Active Shooter” from Steam. The so-called “school shooting simulator” drew widespread condemnation from the games industry. “Rape Day” quickly became controversial as well, with thousands of people signing a Change.org petition asking Valve to prevent its launch.