Steam has consistently been the largest digital distribution platform for PC video games since its inception. After an official launch in 2013, it managed to capture 75% of the market space. By the end of 2017, it accounted for 18% of global PC game sales at $4.3 billion. At present, the service has over 150 million registered accounts. Catering to the requests of its myriad users, Steam has evolved over time to expand the versatility of games available on their platform. The push has seen them include games which contain violence and sexual content. On 5th September, Steam’s online blog announced that it would now filter out games based on mature content as well, one that doesn’t include sex or violence.
Steam was developed by Valve, an American video game developer, publisher, and digital distribution company. Founded in 1996, its headquarters are currently located in Bellevue, Washington. In addition to being a platform for game distribution, Steam also provides digital rights management (DRM), matchmaking servers, video streaming, and social networking services. Previously, Valve had announced that it would publish all sort of games on Steam, as long as the material isn’t illegal or “straight-up-trolling”. Thus Steam allowed users to filter out games featuring, “Frequent violence/gore or nudity/sexual content”.
However, several games on Steam consists of content that could be described as disturbing, but not necessarily falling under the category of violence or sex. To address the issue, Steam has now decided to include the option to filter out games based on “mature” content. The decision came after a push by several developers who noticed their games getting tagged under “adult content’ despite having no sex or violence in them.
Thus, Steam has decided to increase the effectiveness of filtering out content. Now along with introducing the “Mature Content” filter, it also includes the option for developers to provide a description of the content itself. This would ensure that users get an understanding of the content in the game before having played it. Parents can also rely on the description to decide if the game is suited for their kids to play in the first place.
PC Games have gotten extremely realistic in recent times – including graphic content that depicts sex, violence and other adult contents. While there is a universal rating system to classify such games, it’s usually not included on Steam’s filtering system. Instead, Steam hopes that its own filters, along with the description of the game’s objectionable content, will provide enough information to users to take an informed decision.
Along with such changes, Valve has also increased the number of filters on its software to 10 from a previous three. This will give users more option to search for games that are suited to their liking.
As PC Games encapsulate more avenues of real-life, it’s important to upgrade the ways in which they could be described. There are numerous ways a games could not be suited for a child, expect the obvious sex and violence. Addressing those ways and finding tags to describe them is one way to ensure that the correct game falls under the correct category.