Steam have updated their policies, forbidding developers and publishers from discussing their games on other platforms, and “content patches” outside Steam.
GamesIndustry.biz reports the change in the Steam Community FAQ. As noted at the very bottom of the page, developers may not use the Steam Community for their game to inform users of non-Steam versions of their game.
“Q: Can I use the Steam community to let customers know of non-Steam versions of my game?
A: In the game you ship via Steam, and in communications on Steam, you may only promote the Steam version and its availability via Steam, and not other distribution outlets. This applies both to full versions of your game and to content patches that change the existing version.”
While developers had used the Steam news hub to discuss release dates on other platforms (such as consoles), the above policy will likely apply, as it falls under the “Community Hub.” This would also include the Discussions forums for each game.
The move is likely directed at the Epic Games Store. In September 2019, it was initially reported that Valve announced a “new” policy, seemingly banning publishers and developers from announcing a game for Steam, and then have exclusivity on another platform. However, this policy was later revealed to be in place from at least 2017.
Cases where developers announced a game for Steam and later pulled them for an exclusive release on the Epic Games Store was common when the platform launched in late 2018. This has occurred with titles including Shenmue III, Anno 1800, and Metro Exodus (the latter even prompting a response from the series creator).
Others have rejected the Epic Games Store’s exclusivity offer outright, including Bandai Namco Entertainment, Microsoft, and indie developer Unfold Games– going as far as to say pulling Darq from Steam for Epic Games Store exclusivity would ruin their credibility.
The new policy is also be a move against “adult patches” for games, or acknowledging there may be an adults-only version of a game on other platforms. Steam had gradually edged away from adult content- with one developer on October 28th 2017 confirming they were no longer allowed to post any information regarding uncensoring patches on Steam.
On May 18th, 2018, many adult game developers received messages from Steam, stating they needed to remove adult content from their games or have them removed. The day after it was explained this was an error– as all adult games were being re-reviewed.
Valve then stated on June 7th, 2018 that it would “allow everything” on Steam other than “trolling” or illegal content. On July 16th of that year, developers claimed Steam was working on a new adult filter system.
While the first totally uncensored adult game did come to Steam in September 2018, others have not been so lucky. Visual novel Hello Good-Bye was banned even after patching the game appropriate for all ages. “HunieDev” also confirmed that HuniePop 2 would be censored on Steam, while heavily hinting at an uncensoring patch being available.
Taimanin Asagi series was set to become available on Steam in August 2019, with the first episode being free. A few weeks later the game was removed from Steam, due to accusations that the game’s characters were underage. Some believed this was caused by some characters wearing a school uniform.
The game would later return as Taimanin Asagi 1: Trial, devoid of any sexual content and- as its name implies- acting as a trial with only the first few scenes shown.
Recently Steam removed visual novel Bokuten – Why I Became an Angel despite it being an all ages version, and allegedly with no notification to the publisher. The game later returned, but the reason was only stated as “false, invalid reasons” by the publisher. Despite this, they also stated a valid issue was discovered after investigation by both parties, which was removed.