First Valve got in trouble for taking a stand against sexual content in games, by ditching a mess of them from Steam. Then it stepped back from that decision, and let the games back on. Then the company allowed a game that let players become school shooters onto the store, for which it copped some justifiable flak, and so removed that game.
Now, according to a blog post overnight, Valve's basically decided this curation malarkey is just too damn hard, and announced it will be allowing developers and gamers to decide what gets published, and what gets bought.
If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.
The post goes on to point out how mess and complicated these issues are, but the decision to abdicate any responsibility for content on Steam is - essentially - Valve saying it's TOO mess and complicated, and that the company cannot be bothered taking any kind of stand. And yet, it needs to be pointed out that, when even Valve admits that the games it is finding too hard to moderate contain topics like "politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, stepping aside from moderation is itself a political decision.
Polygon was first to print (well, digital, really) with the story, and the replies to a tweet about the story features a lot of pro-free-market types lauding the decision. But even so, Valve - in the same post - makes the following statement:
we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.
So, some decision-making process will be ongoing, and 'trolling' is such a wide-open term when it comes to interpretation that it could mean anything, let alone the fact that Valve seems to be saying that IT is the final arbiter on legality. Not, you know... the actual law. Of course, Valve is certainly correct when it points out that "the legal definitions around these topics can be too broad or vague to allow us to avoid making subjective and interpretive decisions."
In essence, this is a mealy-mouthed attempt to step back from responsibility, to please one group of gamers, while still being circumspect enough to have a fall-back when Valve does inevitably take a stand. It's doublespeak, much like this statement from the blog-post:
It also means that the games we allow onto the Store will not be a reflection of Valve’s values...
Well, I'm sorry Steam, but it is a reflection of your values. Or, more importantly, your total lack of them.