Steam Pulls and Restores Controversial Game Hatred from Greenlight
The controversial isometric shooter about a serial killer, Hatred, made it to Steam Greenlight but it didn’t last long there. After only a few hours on Greenlight, Hatred had ascended to #7 on the Steam Greenlight chart but that was as high as it would go. Valve quickly removed the game from Greenlight and indicated that Hatred would not be making its game onto Steam.
In pulling the game from Greenlight, a Steam representative told the gaming press, “Based on what we’ve seen on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down.”
Considering what Steam has allowed through Early Access, clearly the quality of the game isn’t the reason why Hatred was pulled. It’s not much of a logical leap that the content of Hatred is why it was pulled from Greenlight.
For those not familiar, Hatred puts you in the shoes of a spree killer whose self-described mission is to kill as many people as he can before he himself is killed.
And here’s the trailer showing the game’s content:
Quite clearly, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. Even if I saw it on sale on Steam and it was one of the best games of 2015, I probably wouldn’t pick it up but I also don’t particularly care for shooters. Heck, I’ve never been into the crime sandbox elements of the GTA games. I like the story, thank you very much. Just because it doesn’t strike my fancy doesn’t mean that I don’t think that nobody should like this game. Different strokes and all that.
The real interesting part of this might be the debate as to whether Steam not allowing a game into its store (or potentially not allowing it into its store given that Hatred was only in Greenlight) is a case of Steam doing something well within its rights as a private commercial enterprise or if it’s a form of censorship.
I can really see both sides of the argument. Freedom of speech and expression only really applies to governments. The various government agencies of the United States aren’t doing anything to potentially hinder or censor Hatred so going by the legal provisions set forth by the First Amendment to the US Constitution, Destructive Creations’ freedoms aren’t being violated.
So while Valve is doing nothing legally wrong, considering that Hatred is far from the first game where you can kill innocent civilians or that could be described as a murder simulator on Steam, it’s not like Valve has a moral consistency that they’re falling back on either.
The banning of Hatred seems more like a snap judgement that’s preempting a possible controversy over the game’s content. It’s well within Valve’s rights to do that since they can control their storefront however they see fit. However, as the biggest storefront in gaming, they have a lot of power to make or break a game and with great power comes great responsibility. For the tens, maybe hundreds, of thousands of copies Hatred is likely to sell, Valve seems to believe the profit isn’t worth the hassle.
Of course, isn’t this the whole purpose of the Greenlight system. The people curate what comes onto Steam while Valve stays out of it. They’ve been good at that until now. Perhaps the most aggravating from a consumer and artistic advocate’s perspective is that Valve hasn’t explained why they pulled Hatred. It would be possible to criticize Valve’s decision if there was a reason behind it.
For their part, Destructive Creations released the following statement:
“Dear Hatred Fans,
As you know today we’ve launched our Steam Greenlight campaign for Hatred.
Unfortunately after couple of hours Steam shut it down giving the below as reasons behind their decision:
‘We wanted you guys to know that based on what we see on Greenlight we would not publish Hatred on Steam. As such we’ll be taking it down.’
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 do so. In the same time we want to assure you that this won’t in any way impact the game’s development, game’s vision or gameplay features we’re aiming for. The game is still to be released in Q2 2015 as planned.
Moreover we don’t treat this as a failure because yet again this showed us a huge community support we’re totally overwhelmed with. After only a couple of hours Greenlight campaign being live, Hatred gathered 13,148 up votes and ended up on a #7 on Top 100 list.
This is the best proof for us that there are diehard Hatred fans out there, waiting for this game to be released. And that we need to keep going to deliver them a game that offers exciting and challenging gameplay.
The whole situation only pushes us forward to go against any adversity and not to give up. It also makes us want to provide our fans Hatred pre-orders sooner, as many of you have asked for them.
At the end of the day you, gamers will judge if we were able to do a game that’s simply fun to play.”
While it’s admirable that Destructive Creations is willing to continue with the game regardless of popular opinion about its content and what Valve says, it might be like Don Quixote and his windmills. Without a space on the biggest gaming storefront on the internet, it’s unlikely that Hatred will get very far. Whether that’s a good thing or not is a matter of personal opinion. It’s just a shame that Valve is subverting the Greenlight system to cause Hatred’s failure.
UPDATE: Can I do an update at 11:00 PM at night? Well, that’s what I’m going to do because it’s a 900-word article and I don’t intend to scrap it.
Late last evening, Steam restored Hatred to Greenlight and are letting the users decide whether Hatred should be available for sale on Steam when it’s complete. At the end of the day, the standards of decency will be determined by the wallets of Steam customers rather than by Steam themselves. At the end of the day, the power to decide whether something should be censored or not should be in the hands of consumers. If they think a game is in bad taste, they can decide by not buying at letting it die on the shelf.
Now, we just have to wait for all the criticism about the content of this game now and at release.