Valve Prohibits Hatred: Is This Censorship?

Valve decides to pull controversial title Hatred off of Steam Greenlight. Can they do that?

I try to stay out of these types of debates, but I need to discuss the recent issue of censorship; first, a brief overview of the situation.

A few days ago, Valve decided to pull Destructive Creations' controversial game Hatred off of its Steam Greenlight service. Due to the conversations of morality surrounding Hatred’s premise of mass murder, Valve decided it did not want to sell the game on its sales platform.

Hatred developed by Destructive Creations

The gaming community quickly reacted, insisting that Valve is actively censoring Hatred by not allowing the game to release on Steam. The community argues that they see no reason Hatred should never see the light of day, while other controversial titles like Postal 2, or unfinished and buggy games like The Slaughtering Grounds continue to be sold.

Those with this view claim that this is no less than full censorship and that Valve should be required to sell the game.

Whether you agree with the supporters of Hatred, or the supporters of Valve, let’s look at the facts according to U.S. law, which Valve must adhere. According to the Federal Communications Commission, and the lackluster legislation surrounding censorship, corporations (or even industries) can censor themselves.

This is why we see the ratings on video games and movies. Those industries decided to have some sort of mechanism to allow for consumer choice and self-censoring when making purchasing decisions.

Because a corporation can censor itself, the staff at Valve can make moral choices that best reflect the corporation’s views. This includes not selling a game it deems too obscene. Of course, if Valve took an aggressive step and tried to get the game banned from being sold at all, through the legal system, then that is censorship. However, the simple act of prohibiting the sale of a game on its own platform is not unlawful censorship according to U.S. laws.

The Destructive Creations team.

With that said, it is a bit odd that Valve pulls Hatred off Steam when it still allows Postal, Postal 2, Postal 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Fallout 3, and all games that allow the killing of unarmed people. If they allow those games to sell, why can’t they sell Hatred? If not for the morality of it, what is causing Valve to have doubts? Is it because the game is too buggy? If that is the case, then games like The Slaughtering Grounds and Farm Simulator should be pulled immediately.

So what can we, as a gaming community, do about this decision? Absolutely nothing. Why? Because Valve is a power player in the gaming industry. Valve can do what it wants as long as it is lawful.  

Sure, I could tell you to “vote with your wallet” but you and I both know that almost never works, because for every person who decides to stop giving money to Valve, a million more decide to throw money at the screen, and even a million more during those infamous Steam sales. Can we collectively pursue legal action against Valve? No, because then we would be the ones censoring. We may or may not like the decision, but Valve has every right to make it. 

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with Valve’s decision to remove Hatred from Steam? 

Featured Columnist

Gaming enthusiast. Great at many, master of none.

Published Dec. 16th 2014
  • TheRealVolkon
    Whether you agree or not is irrelevant. Valve, as a private company, has the right to sell or decline to sell whatever they want.
  • Ashley Shankle
    Associate Editor
    I do feel it's censorship. That said, there are other ways to sell the game than through Steam and I'm sure the devs aren't actually that upset. After all, they spent months viraling their game proclaiming it was "too extreme" and bragging about how upset it would make some people once released. They spent months shilling their game based on that -- they can go ahead and have what they asked for.

    Edit to add that I have no qualms about what's entailed in the game (though it's not to my tastes), but they spent a lot of time getting this image of the game up. They should have expected something negative to come from it.
  • Simon Andrew
    In case you missed it - Gabe Newell intervened and the game has gone back up on Greenlight. Via Polygon:
  • Si_W
    I wonder if this is to avoid the questions on the likes of Postal 2 being available and this game not?
  • Corey Kirk
    Featured Columnist
    I wonder the same thing. It might be because of those questions that Gabe decided to put it back. Of course, it may also just be an oversight and a bad decision by a few people. We may never know the whole truth. Wish I could get into Valve and discuss it directly with him.
  • GameSkinny Staff
    I think Valve is 100% in the clear on this matter. Allowing Hatred to remain on Greenlight, a system that Valve admits has issues to begin with, could damage the Steam's public reputation just as much as removing it. Valve is a private entity and vendor and they made a case-specific decision. Valve has the right to pull a game and consumers have the right to be angry that it is now more difficult to access this game - but that's about the extent of the situation.
  • Esteban Padilla
    Featured Contributor
    I agree. This is similar to when people were claiming Target in Australia was censoring GTA V because there weren't selling it. It's not really censorship if one company decides not to carry it. Chances are Hatred could be picked up by a different distributor or independently released. The game itself is still intact as is. Companies have the right to make decision on what they sell, whether we like it or not. Sometimes, I feel like we as gamers see the shadow of Jack Thompson looming over everything and are quick to cry "Censorship!" when something like this happens. But whether we agree with it or not, Valve made a decision about its policies and that's that.
    I do like how Cory points out that they are still selling Postal and the like, though. That is strange if this was a PR move on Valve's behalf.

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