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Steam adds more options so you can hide "controversial" games

"Trolls are figuring out new ways to be loathsome as we write this."

Valve has updated Steam so you can better filter out games that contain "controversial content". It's part of the company's ongoing response to complaints around some of the games Steam sells.

Back in June, Valve backed away from policing the games it sold via Steam in favour of "allow[ing] everything onto the Steam Store", unless deemed illegal or "straight up trolling". That decision came following the outcry around Active Shooter, a game which let you shoot kids in a school. The game was eventually removed from Steam after public outcry - but only on the grounds it was made by a "troll" developer.

"We did our best to ensure you can safely ignore swaths of games in the store, but still find them if you look directly via the search tool," Valve wrote in a new blog post.

"If there are games that your search should contain that you're ignoring for other reasons (due to its developer, or game tags, for instance), we'll still include it in the list, but we'll blur it out and when you hover over it you can see why it is darkened."

Where you could previously only ignore specific games or game types (like VR, for instance), you can now block out specific developers, publishers or curators. You can also filter more tag words - up to 10, from three.

Valve is sticking with its policy to sell all games regardless of their content, then - to not police the type or genre of games it hosts on its platform. Instead, if you don't want to see them, Valve is ramping up the tools you have to do that yourself.

These options are separate to other new settings which allow you to filter content simply labelled mature or "Adults Only", where previously you could only filter games with specific nudity/sexual content or frequent violence/gore warnings.

New games added to Steam will require the developer to state whether they are mature or not. Older games will slowly be vetted for these labels by Steam moderators.

Finally, a few more developers have been banned for "straight up trolling". In today's blog post, Valve said there had been "actually a surprisingly small number of individuals" behind this, and their bans had all been "a straightforward series of decisions, thus far".

Valve's definition of "trolls" was vague on purpose, the developer concluded in a quick Q&A epilogue, because trolling can take the form of games designed with the sole intent of "riling people up" and because trolling can mean games simply designed to disguise scams.

"Trolls are figuring out new ways to be loathsome as we write this. But the thing these folks have in common is that they aren't actually interested in good faith efforts to make and sell games to you or anyone. When a developer's motives aren't that, they're probably a troll," Valve concluded. "This doesn't mean there aren't some crude or lower quality games on Steam, but it does mean we believe the developers behind them aren't out to do anything more than sell a game they hope some folks will want to play."

"Game creators have a right to free speech... but they do not have a right to publish their games on Steam," Eurogamer editor Oli Welsh previously wrote, weighing in with his thoughts on Valve's decision not to police Steam games in the wake of the Active Shooter controversy. "For Valve to confuse these things is deluded."