Back in June, Valve outlined its new content control policy, even giving the most controversial titles a chance to sell on Steam provided they remain within the law and don’t troll users. Now, Valve has elaborated on its definition of trolling, alongside revamping Steam’s search feature with a brand new customisable filter.
In an effort to help the user curate their own individual experience, Valve has given each user the ability to omit specific developers, publishers, curators and games from search results. The latter utilises Steam’s tagging system, which previously granted the user the ability to list up to 3 tags they wanted to see less of.
This has since been increased to 10, and made into a “hard filter,” according to Valve’s blog post. “In short, the Store now assumes you want to ignore all the games that feature any of those tags in their most popular tags, instead of just using them as suggestions to our recommendation engine,” describes the developer.
Of course, with a stricter filter comes the risk of games that should be searchable becoming caught in the crossfire. These titles are still directly searchable, but will either show at the top of the list as excluded, or remain faded out. Hovering over faded games will tell the user exactly why it has been filtered, as seen in the screenshot above.
While Frequent Violence/Gore and Nudity/Sexual Content are both pre-established filters, Valve has added in two more. Mature Content encompasses games that target the older audience, but lack sex or violence like the previous tags suggest. And Adults Only helps users remove the more explicit content from their searches.
To work, this requires developers to define violent or sexual content within their game. When it comes to older games, Valve is encouraging developers to go back and update their store page in order for the best experience.
“We think the context of how content is presented is important and giving a developer a place to describe and explain what's in their game gives you even more information when browsing and considering a purchase. When you're looking at the store page of a game with mature content, we'll display that developer-written description to you.”
All in all, this should make it significantly easier for developers to enter new games onto the Steam store without worrying that its sexually explicit or controversial content will get knocked back. That is provided that the game itself isn’t illegal or trolling the consumer. Valve knows it’s being vague when it states that “outright trolling” won’t be accepted, and with good reason.
Trolls come in all shapes and sizes, inciting mayhem wherever they go. The more specific the ruleset, the more easily it can be manipulated by those that intend to cause harm. In an effort to keep out scammers that utilise in-game items and those that abuse Steam keys, Valve conducts a “deep assessment that actually begins with the developer,” including their history, their developer associates, their banking information and even how they shop as a customer.
KitGuru Says: It’s wonderful to see such emphasis placed on context rather than an automated algorithm that issues a blanket ruling. While I won’t get my hopes up, this seems like the beginning of a Valve users have been wanting for quite some time now. How do you feel about the new filtering system?