Why Games Get Denied on Steam and How to Avoid the same Fate


In the vast universe of game development, the Steam platform is often seen as a shining star, a beacon of hope for developers looking to distribute their creations to a global audience. However, not all games that attempt to land on this star are successful. Some are denied entry, cast back into the void from whence they came. The reasons for these denials can be as varied as the games themselves, but they often boil down to a few key issues.

Copyright Concerns Over AI-Generated Elements

One of the more recent controversies surrounding Steam’s game approval process involves the use of AI-generated elements in games. Developers have reported that their games were denied due to copyright concerns over these elements. For instance, a game that used AI-generated art assets that appeared to be based on copyrighted material was denied entry to the platform. Valve, the company behind Steam, expressed concern about the legal ownership of the AI-generated art and asked the developer to confirm that they owned the rights to all of the intellectual property used to create the art in the game. This case highlights the potential legal complexities that can arise with the use of AI in game development.

Content That Sexualizes Minors

Steam has specific guidelines about the content that can be distributed via its platform. One of these guidelines prohibits content that sexualizes minors. Games that violate this guideline are likely to be denied. This is a particularly sensitive issue, and developers need to be very careful when creating characters and scenarios to ensure they do not cross this line.

Inconsistent Rules and Bans

Steam has been criticized for its inconsistent rules and bans, particularly when it comes to visual novels and adult-oriented titles. Some developers have reported that their games were banned despite containing similar content to other games that were allowed on the platform. This inconsistency can make it difficult for developers to know what is acceptable and what is not.

Asset Flips and Scams

In the past, Steam has been plagued by “asset flips” – games that are quickly put together using pre-made assets and then sold on the platform with little to no original content. These games are often of poor quality and offer little value to players. In response to this issue, Steam has started cracking down on these types of games and denying them entry to the platform.

Similarly, games that are being used for scams or other types of bad behavior are also likely to be denied. For example, in 2017, Steam started removing games that were being used to generate trading cards without actually being played. This was part of a larger effort to combat “fake games” and ensure that the platform remains a place for genuine, quality content.

Controversial Content

Games that contain controversial content, whether it be political, sexual, or of some other nature, may also be denied by Steam. While the platform generally has a lax approach to curation, it does draw the line at certain types of content. What exactly constitutes “controversial” can be somewhat subjective, and this is another area where developers have criticized Steam for its inconsistency.

While Steam is a popular platform for game distribution, getting a game approved for sale on the platform is not always a straightforward process. Developers need to be aware of the platform’s rules and guidelines, and be prepared for the possibility that their game may be denied. By understanding the reasons why games get denied on Steam, developers can better navigate the approval process and increase their chances of success.

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