Valve says it will not allow Rape Day, a visual novel that would have let players “verbally harass, kill people, and rape women” in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, on Steam. The game has since been removed from Steam.
In a statement published today on Steam, Valve’s Erik Johnson explained that the company has declined to carry Rape Day on its store, despite lax content policies that would seem to permit such content on the platform.
Here’s Valve’s statement, in full:
Over the past week you may have heard about a game called ‘Rape Day’ coming soon to Steam. Today we’ve decided not to distribute this game on Steam. Given our previous communication around Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store?, we think this decision warrants further explanation.
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. 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.
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.
Rape Day was never available for sale on Steam. Customers could wishlist the game, which was expected to arrive on Steam in April.
On Tuesday, the developer of Rape Day said in an update to Steam that the game was under review at Valve.
“I reached out to Steam because the review process was taking longer than expected,” they said. “I learned that because the game contains sexual content and content that may be illegal in some countries, the review process will take much longer than expected. Unfortunately, I was not able to get a specific time estimate”
The developer of Rape Day said on the game’s website, prior the game’s removal from Steam today, that it planned to seek alternative distribution methods for the visual novel in the event that Valve banned its release.
“I have not broken any rules, so I don’t see how my game could get banned unless Steam changes their policies,” the developer said. “My game was properly marked as adult and with a thorough description of all of the potentially offensive content before the coming soon page went live on Steam.
“However, if Steam does change their policy… and it is absolutely their right to do so, as a private company, I will do what I can to try and create/and or find an alternate way of selling and marketing my games.”