[Jim Sterling] Steam's Reluctance to Approve Hong-Kong Themed Games Raises Suspicions of China Bootlicking.

Oct 25, 2017
4,263
Las Vegas

In this video, Jim argues that Valve's (Steam) reluctance to approve two pro Hong Kong themed games on their store front suggests China Bootlicking.

Argues that many games, even ones that are literally broken - some even revolving around hate speech, can get approved within 5 days. But two particular Hong-Kong themed games are taking months to get approved. When the developers pressed, Valve stated, "your games are controversial" thus adding into the time it takes for approval.

Jim then states that even games with Pro-Trump messaging such as "Lock Her Up" get approved very quickly on the storefront, so controversial politics can't be the sole reason.

Ultimately, Valve seems to be cherry picking these two particular pro Hong Kong based games by not approving them despite having a track record of basically, approving literally everything. Even after the developers have tried multiple times, and have contacted Valve directly, their games have yet to be approved, even after several months have passed.

Jim then closes with:
"All of this points to Valve being yet another corporation being scared of upsetting China's government because there is too much money to be made by the Chinese audience."

Edit: Kotaku also wrote an article about this that Jim references, but I can't find the link to it. Will update later.
 
Last edited:
May 21, 2018
519
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
 

spman2099

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,324
It is sad, but people seem to be just waking up to how much we depend on China. This isn't a new revelation, and it was always going to be problematic.
 

HaremKing

Member
Dec 20, 2018
1,248
User Banned (1 week): trolling, history of similar behavior
Time for Epic Game Store to win some big publicity for doing what Steam won't do and sell these two games.
 

AshenOne

Member
Feb 21, 2018
1,070
Pakistan
Since the previous thread was closed, I'll add this note here as well..

For all those who don't know, the developers had said on their steam page that all funds from this would go to the protests in Hong Kong, so maybe this is what caused Valve to act on it.
 

Lazlow

Member
Oct 27, 2017
466
I see no reason why companies can't do business in China. But they shouldn't bend to it's government threats in order to do so.
Then they won’t do business in China; you do what the government says or you don’t do it at all.
I do find it hard to believe though that if enough large Western companies pulled the plug that there wouldn’t be some discussions had to get them back.
 

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,276
While Jim makes comparisons to other political games, I don't think it's really all that comparable to other "political" games in terms of the potential outcome of its publication, the risk attached. The US won't ban Steam because of a Trump meme game. Whereas it may well be that Valve doesn't want to risk having Steam disabled entirely in China, since it's already in somewhat precarious/nebulous territory and operates outside of the usual game approval process.

There's the matter of balancing internal/external (company) politics, financial interests (the overriding factor most likely), and the interests of people who have invested a ton into their library. It's not just one game or five games; it's access to all kinds of (uncensored) games that otherwise don't make it into China -- again, to my understanding, Steam's in some kind of weird largely unregulated gray area. I also recall Chinese players not responding well to the Steam China client/service, because its selection would in all likelihood not be as large as the worldwide version.

I suspect this will be in limbo for a long time rather than be outright approved or denied -- which, like Jim says, due to its procedural irregularity also does not look good. Really would be surprised if Valve would risk losing that huge market. Though I would prefer to see them take a stand and see where it goes.
 
OP
OP
lowhighkang_LHK
Oct 25, 2017
4,263
Las Vegas
While Jim makes comparisons to other political games, I don't think it's really all that comparable to other "political" games in terms of the potential outcome of its publication, the risk attached. The US won't ban Steam because of a Trump meme game. Whereas it may well be that Valve doesn't want to risk having Steam disabled entirely in China, since it's already in somewhat precarious/nebulous territory and operates outside of the usual game approval process.

There's the matter of balancing internal/external (company) politics, financial interests, and the interests of players who, like us, have invested a ton into their library and if that goes black one day, it would genuinely suck. It's not just one game or five games; it's access to all kinds of (uncensored) games that otherwise don't make it into China -- again, to my understanding, Steam's in some kind of weird largely unregulated gray area. I also recall Chinese players not responding well to the Steam China client/service, because its selection would in all likelihood not be as large as the worldwide version.

I suspect this will be in limbo for a long time rather than be outright approved or denied. Really would be surprised if Valve would risk losing that huge market. Though I would prefer to see them take a stand and see where it goes.
Yeah, it's a complex situation. And I'm sure it's these things they are considering which is taking so long. There is also the fact that revenue from (what we know - at least from one of the game's) has revenue going to the Pro Hong Kong movement. Not sure about the other one though.
 
Last edited:

spman2099

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,324
I see no reason why companies can't do business in China. But they shouldn't bend to it's government threats in order to do so.
That is the problem. If you are going to do business in China, and if you are going to make China a big part of your expected profit margins, you are going to need to compromise on a number of things. Like I said, it is inevitably problematic. You can't depend on China and not compromise.
 

Aztechnology

Community Resettler
Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
8,416
I see no reason why companies can't do business in China. But they shouldn't bend to it's government threats in order to do so.
Totalitarian governments don't mix with capitalism because free markets/competition can be overridden/destroyed by the government's will. I probably sounds like a libertarian right there rofl. But the scale is entirely different.

Capitalism still can change countries to democracy, it has pushed China in that direction. Which is why not capitulating to demands/bending like this and keeping our strong moral belief systems in place and actively defending them is so important. We're constantly weakening the power of democracy.
 

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,276
Yeah, it's a complex situation. And I'm sure it's these things they are considering which is taking so long. There is also the fact that revenue from this game's goes directly to the support Hong Kong movement, which may complicate things further.
This one too? I thought it was only that Karma visual novel.
I wonder if there are other games on Steam that also explicitly fund "political movements" -- outside of these two. Is it part of a wider policy/ToS conflict?

..... why was the previous thread closed?
Because the OP was just a link to Jim's video.
 
OP
OP
lowhighkang_LHK
Oct 25, 2017
4,263
Las Vegas
This one too? I thought it was only that Karma visual novel.
I wonder if there are other on Steam games that also explicitly fund "political movements" -- outside of these two. Is it part of a wider policy/ToS conflict?



Because the OP was just a link to Jim's video.
I'm not sure if it's both games. Somebody mentioned it before in a thread. It could just be for only one of those games (Karma). Nothing to indicate if the other game does that as well. So best not to assume either way until we know.
 

C-Dub

Member
Oct 25, 2017
652
Cardiff, Wales
Time for Epic Game Store to win some big publicity for doing what Steam won't do and sell these two games.
Good luck with that - Epic are bankrolled by Tencent.

When it comes to China, almost every corp is as bad as each other. There's no way to take a stand on it and take your dollars elsewhere because literally everyone and all their competitors are bowing in reverence to the capitalist oligarchal dictatorship in China.
 

Squishy3

Member
Oct 27, 2017
742
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
I mean, this is capitalism. There's no morals in capitalism, only profit. Look at what happened with Ancestry and how the police used the website. FBI is quick to label Faceapp as a Russian spy program, but if say, the CIA was involved in the creation of it there'd be no peep about it from our government. They're just jealous they didn't think of it.
 

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,276
Good luck with that - Epic are bankrolled by Tencent.

When it comes to China, almost every corp is as bad as each other. There's no way to take a stand on it and take your dollars elsewhere because literally everyone and all their competitors are bowing in reverence to the capitalist oligarchal dictatorship in China.
Tim Sweeney did come out and say it wouldn't affect their decision-making (it was on Twitter or something), but to my knowledge they've not yet had their feet held to the fire either. So it's all just posturing until there's an actual conflict that needs resolving.
 

C-Dub

Member
Oct 25, 2017
652
Cardiff, Wales
Tim Sweeney did come out and say it wouldn't affect their decision-making (it was on Twitter or something), but to my knowledge they've not yet had their feet held to the fire either. So it's all just posturing until there's an actual conflict that needs resolving.
Considering how Epic is already heavily curating their platform, they can very easily come up with some other excuse as to why they wouldn't run with the game that doesn't require them to reject it for political reasons. Same for Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.

The reason why issues are cropping up with Steam and the Apple App Store previously is that generally Apple and Valve have been quite open about what goes on their platforms, Steam moreso than Apple, but compared to EGS or your garden variety console platform both are far more open. So when Apps do get rejected, there's more scope to ask why.

Still, I wouldn't count on Epic touching these games with a ten foot barge pole, and they don't even have to be honest about why that is.
 

gigantor21

Member
Oct 29, 2017
1,237
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
The corporations and moneyed interests pushing that meme knew full well that could happen, and didn't care. They just wanted access to a fast growing market. The political realities in any one country only matter to them when it gets in the way of their money.

The worst part is that totalitarian-friendly business moves aren't even new. Charlie Chaplin struggled mightily to get The Dictator made because Hollywood didn't want to hurt their business in pre-WWII Nazi Germany for instance.
 

PC-tan

Member
Feb 25, 2018
859
This would be a big problem for Steam.

I'm still under the impression that a lot of devs/publishers that use Steam are aware of China and how China uses Steam.

Take Square Enix as an example, they released Octopath Travel on N/S first with a set amount of language options. Then a year or so passes by and guess what they release a PC version as well through Steam. There is a new addition to this release and that is that it has Chinese support (the N/S version also got this language as part of an update), then a month passes by and if you look at Steam, the game is not that high up on the NA store but it was in the World Wide store, if you look further you will notice that more than 50%!!!!! Of the reviews were in Chinese.


So compared to PSN, eShop,Xbox Live, EGS and other digital game stores, Steam has a much bigger relevance than them in China (and that would also mean Asia as well, sort of).

Valve did launch Steam China which I guess is supposed to separate the two so that Valve doesn't get in trouble and Steam gets blocked there.

If Steam would get blocked in China that would be a big no no and not just for Valve but also for devs as well. You even see devs mention that if you decide to add a language other than English to your game it's always best to add Chinese. And some of that also has to do with Steam and how you can set Steam to mainly show you games in your native language (so if you made an indie game and it supports Chinese the chances are higher that it will be shown to some one that has that set as their primary language.)


China is actually one of the biggest Steam has over the other guys and if they lost then that would actually be a reason for some devs to actually leave Steam and go to another store.

It's most likely too big of a potential issue for Valve to want to risk stuff over since they would potentially be "screwing over" (or how ever you view it) millions of customer and a few hundred (thousand?) Devs/publishers if Steam outright became banned in China.

From what I recall it seems that in China Valve is sort of know but not really. So I guess that in China you could see Valve as being "Valve, a Steam Company" and when PUBG was initially released I recall hearing something about how people seemed to think that Steam was the developer of the game
 

PC-tan

Member
Feb 25, 2018
859
Just remember at the end of the day Corporations are not your friends (including the big 3)
 

daxy

Member
Oct 25, 2017
9,276
If Steam would get blocked in China that would be a big no no and not just for Valve but also for devs as well. You even see devs mention that if you decide to add a language other than English to your game it's always best to add Chinese. And some of that also has to do with Steam and how you can set Steam to mainly show you games in your native language (so if you made an indie game and it supports Chinese the chances are higher that it will be shown to some one that has that set as their primary language.)

China is actually one of the biggest Steam has over the other guys and if they lost then that would actually be a reason for some devs to actually leave Steam and go to another store.
Hadn’t even thought of it from that angle. There are so many factors and ripple effects attached to these two games. I’m sure a lot of people will be anxiously looking to see what happens.
 

spam musubi

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
5,583
Tim Sweeney did come out and say it wouldn't affect their decision-making (it was on Twitter or something), but to my knowledge they've not yet had their feet held to the fire either. So it's all just posturing until there's an actual conflict that needs resolving.
Tim’s tweet was saying he wouldn’t ban a fortnite pro for making a pro Hong Kong message. Not exactly the same thing as hosting a game where the proceeds will go to Hong Kong activists.
 

Protein

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,308
Tin foil hat theory, but once Tencent buys or partially owns most gaming companies, you'll probably never see a game speak ill of the Chinese government again. In a few years, watch them start influencing other forms of media.
 

Loan Wolf

Member
Nov 9, 2017
2,099
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
Capitalism and democracy are not mutually exclusive, and the sooner folks realize that, the better
 

bbq of doom

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,070
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
The sooner folks realize that capitalism is what brings corruption and totalitarianism the better, IMO.
 

jaekeem

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,775
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
I agree, but it seems pretty obvious now how wrong that view was

it was just neoliberal bullshit. capitalism does not engender democratic values.
 

Walnut

Member
Nov 2, 2017
374
Austin, TX
A couple of things

1) If Steam's only guidelines are don't upload anything illegal or trolling, and you make a bad asset flip game about liberating Hong Kong, and the Chinese market is one of your major players for the platform, wouldn't that game be considered both illegal *and* trolling by some metrics and thus against the rules?
2) This honestly feels like deflection to me that Tencent literally owns Epic's alternative launcher and thus is even more influenced by Chinese politics than Valve is

That's all. All of the positive points to the video are probably more obvious/will be covered here so I won't spend my time writing them up. Interesting video
 

Rickenslacker

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,251
at least itch is hosting it (i know it was mentioned in the video, just figured to drop a link for those interested)

A couple of things

1) If Steam's only guidelines are don't upload anything illegal or trolling, and you make a bad asset flip game about liberating Hong Kong, and the Chinese market is one of your major players for the platform, wouldn't that game be considered both illegal *and* trolling by some metrics and thus against the rules?
2) This honestly feels like deflection to me that Tencent literally owns Epic's alternative launcher and thus is even more influenced by Chinese politics than Valve is

That's all. All of the positive points to the video are probably more obvious/will be covered here so I won't spend my time writing them up. Interesting video
the only thing that really seems like deflection are the mentions of epic in this thread given that the video has literally no mention of them at all
 

Walnut

Member
Nov 2, 2017
374
Austin, TX
And that's fair because I didn't really think of the Epic angle until people here brought it up lol

I mainly wanted to post the first point
 

Firima

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,076
Well, you gotta lower your ideals of freedom if you wanna suck on the warm teat of China, Steam included.
 

Arsenekinz

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,117
Canada
Valve doesnt want to risk getting Steam or Dota 2 banned in China for a game that looks like an asset flip. Shocker.

Reminder that the chinese market on Steam is huge and if they approved this and got banned in China, It would fuck over developers who make games with chinese translations massively because a lot of these games get most of their revenue from Chinese users.

This is a lose lose situation for Valve, but the people who actually care about this stuff are a small minority so its not like Valve has to care about any backlash they get from this.
 

Rosenkrantz

Member
Jan 17, 2018
2,141
I'd love to see Valve reacting differently, but I also know that no big business out there is eager to lose the Chinese market and game companies aren't different in that regard, unfortunately, money rules the world.
 

Jeb

Avenger
Mar 14, 2018
1,205
Still amazes me in a bad way that capitalism was supposed to be the channel through which Western democratic ideals could be exported to the world. Now that channel is instead being used to import totalitarian ideals to the West instead.
A system that prioritizes profit above all else throwing away all ideals in the pursuit of money?

Doesn’t surprise me one bit.
 

EllipsisBreak

Member
Aug 6, 2019
243
If I'm understanding the current situation correctly, Valve hasn't officially decided to block this game yet, right? Rather, they're taking a very long (and very unusual) amount of time to decide whether to approve it. There's a high chance that they view this as a very tricky situation and there's a lot of internal back-and-forth about how to move forward. I think the proper "next step" should be to pressure Valve to release a statement on what they're doing, and go from there.

If it does turn out that Valve is siding with China against Hong Kong like Blizzard did, then yeah, I'm absolutely not okay with that.