While I'm not surprised that Rape Day has been pulled from the store, Valve's seemingly renewed commitment to their (almost) anything goes policy has caught me by surprise.
Valve closed out its statement by saying it's willing to work with developers to find an audience but said Desk Plant chose content matter that made it hard for Valve to help them with that. The game was expected to be released in April, but after Valve's decision, its listing has now been removed from Steam.
News of the game's release prompted petitions in several countries to block it, with one Change.org petition garnering almost 8,000 signatures.
"I'm very wary of making promises or setting incorrect expectations, but: We also care about this and are trying to fix it in a way that makes Upcoming Releases more valuable without hurting games that wish to shift their release date", explains Giardino. Valve did not specifically say why the game is objectionable, which is important for future developers interested in sharing potentially controversial games.
Rape Day is a 3D visual novel that centers around committing violence and assault against women during a zombie apocalypse, with developer Desk Plant encouraging players to "verbally harass, kill, and rape women as [they] choose to progress the story". "It's good that Rape Day got the boot, but Valve's release policy continues to be a mess".
"The content of this game is utterly perverted", she said in a statement.
According to the game's developer, Desk Plant, Rape Day is intended as a dark comedy and is aimed at the "four percent of the general population who are sociopaths". This led to an open question about whether a game like Rape Day would be allowed to be sold.
Steam has gotten flak over its hands-off approach to moderating the games it publishes. Users were not able to pre-purchase the game, but they could add it to the wishlist while Steam completed their content review.
Rape Day's Steam page before its removal featured some disturbing, graphic images. Steam has not said whether it will adjust its policies on sexual violence in games, or if it will change the way games are reviewed before being cleared for sale. Given our previous communication around Who Gets To Be On The Steam Store?, we think this decision warrants further explanation.
'We then have to make a judgement call about any risk it puts to Valve, our developer partners, or our customers.