Official Response to Steam "Purge"
As you all have likely heard, a recent panic has spread across the community of both players and developers alike regarding the prospect of censorship on Steam. While there is a lot of information currently floating around, we wanted to take an official stance on this - both for fans worried about the state of our games, as well as those who may be curious about what is happening.
First off, we would like to say that there is a heavy amount of both speculation and misinformation at the moment. We'll try to make our perspective clear first, so everyone can know the context; Our last several games on Steam were put up against a rigorous approval process to make sure that there was no "adult content" in game. We followed Steam's guidelines as closely as we could, and thus, those games have not been striked or threatened to be pulled. One of these games includes "Analistica Academy", a raunchy comedy visual novel by developer Epic Works. We felt that what we both had to remove from the game at the time was unfair - which even included innuendos and jokes, meant to be funny, and not meant to be pornographic. However, since doing so, the game has not been further striked, and was not included in this recent wave of strikes, which we feel it likely would have been if Steam was truly just cracking down on all content whatsoever. Other games we have - including Episicava - were subject to the same process. We had to remove things such as bathing scenes. However, again, Episicava has not been hit.
So, after that, people are probably wondering - just what is the problem? Who is being targeted? We cannot speak for all developers, but for us specifically, only Karmasutra has been affected. Karmasutra was allowed on in mid-2017; this was a time when the approval process was seemingly more lax - we were not subject to the same lengthy approval process that games such as AA and Episicava were. We would like to think that given this dichotomy, the issue likely lies in Steam now retroactively trying to normalize the level of censorship that they've been keen on pushing onto new releases for the past, more recent months. Karmasutra is NOT being pulled, and we would like to make that very clear. We were given a chance to comply, and a somewhat lengthy time period to remove all content which could be deemed too adult for the platform. This was not an automated message - it seems like it was from an actual staffer. As such, we've uploaded a new build, and we've asked them if it is okay, and if not, what specifically must be changed going forward. Our customers have made it clear that Karmasutra is a game they want to own on Steam - and we feel that abandoning the platform because of this trouble would be detrimental to both us, and to perspective and existing customers.
We can only speak for ourselves, and we are not trying to put words in the mouths of others - we are simply talking from our own perspective and experience.
To further clarify, we are not at all saying that the need to strip away content is ideal. It is obviously not something we would prefer, but as long as we can still be allowed to host off-site uncensor patches, we will continue to sell our games there.
For those who are worried that specific genres are being targeted - such as yuri - our recent published game, developed by Reine Works, is a yuri title whose promotional art features girls kissing - https://store.steampowered.com/app/867700/The_Wilting_Amaranth/. The game was quickly approved by Valve. This is not an issue of discrimination against identities of any sort, and if it was, we would certainly look into pulling out catalog from the platform.
For those who are worried about a double standard - such as the dichotomy of AAA games allowing more suggestive content, this is a valid concern, but the truth on the Steam platform has always been that AAAs have more room to bend the curve of what is allowed. By having direct contact with Valve, it's much easier for them to work out on a 1:1 basis of what is allowed and what isn't, and with entire legal teams at their disposal, it should be no surprise they are a step above indies. This is incredibly frustrating, but this has always been the situation on not only Steam, but all console platforms and distributors. We feel this is comparing apples and oranges, and while we don't condone the behavior, this is something separate from the situation at hand.
This is again frustrating, and we definitely agree with all developers that there is a lack of transparency over the situation, which is making things a lot worse. However, our current image of the situation is based on what developers have chosen to come forward and state they have been affected - it is highly possible that those we are pointing fingers at for a double standard have been affected as well. In this highly frustrating time, we encourage all developers and customers to try and remain calm, and not spread any possible speculation or misinformation. What we do not want is for this to turn from a problem into a witch hunt.
We will keep everyone updated on the situation, and we will do our best to be as transparent as we can on our end.
If any developers or customers - have any further questions, feel free to let us know and we will try to respond as best we can.
Thank you all,
Top Hat Studios, Inc.