UPDATE: Hatred has been removed from Steam’s Greenlight service.
“Based on what we’ve seen on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down,” is all Doug Lombardi, Valve’s Vice President of Marketing, said to Eurogamer on the issue.
We contacted Destructive Creations for comment. They have not been given a reason for the game’s removal from Greenlight, according to Jarosław Zieliński. “We have no idea [why our game was removed],” he wrote. “We hope it’s just some mistake/misunderstanding.”
UPDATE #2: Destructive Creations have released a statement, saying they received the same explanation from Steam that Lombardi gave.
“Even though games like Manhunt or Postal are still available on Steam we, of course, fully respect Valve’s decision, as they have the right” to remove Hatred from Greenlight, the missive states.
Destructive Creations claim that while the game was on Steam, it had gathered 13 148 upvotes and reached 7th place on the top 100 list of Greenlight games.
This presents Valve with a dilemma.
Hatred will likely get the votes it needs to make it onto Valve’s digital distribution platform, thanks to the exposure it’s received recently. This puts Valve in the uncomfortable position of deciding whether to give the go-ahead to a product that’s been roundly reviled, when the company has previously had no compunction about accepting explicitly violent content.
Steam’s Greenlight process is so opaque, Valve could well disallow Hatred a place in its e-store and simply pretend that there weren’t enough votes, or that there wasn’t enough indication one way or the other whether people wanted it. (The second is possible, certainly. But with this much noise around the game, it would be silly for Valve to avoid it, anyway, since there’s a good chance it will be a moneymaker. Controversy is lucrative.) They could simply remove it from Greenlight.
Valve already disallows sexually explicit games, the naughty bits of which developers must censor in order to bring the game to Steam, so a move to require Hatred to be censored wouldn’t be that much of a change in Valve’s modus operandi. This would be the first time that Valve censors violence from the get-go, rather than leaving it up to regional laws to define what’s acceptable, however.
The third option is to do as they’ve always done, and allow the game through Greenlight if there’s enough interest in it; the Postal series is on Steam, along with many other gratuitously violent titles, after all. This would seem to be in line with Valve’s position on violence in their own games, too; their Left 4 Dead titles featured explicit violence, and Left 4 Dead 2 was banned from Australia because of this.
Some have argued that Hatred is different from other violent games because it has no justification for the violence it contains. From Grand Theft Auto 3 onwards (earlier games had no plot), for example, the official driving force behind the violence in the games is ambition. In the first Postal, information provided only in the manual of the game reveals that the protagonist goes on a killing spree because he believes everyone else crazy. In Hatred, the protagonist kills simply because he wants to.
However, nothing prevents players from “abusing” Grand Theft Auto and using the games merely to enact virtual violence, and players who do not read the Postal manual will have no knowledge of the justification behind their character’s violence. Both video game series are sold on Steam. A decision to censor Hatred on those grounds would therefore appear to be arbitrary and unjustified.
Will Valve let the game through Greenlight as is, will it accept Hatred but require developers Creative Destruction to tone down the violence, or will it refuse Hatred entirely?