Following a whirlwind of controversy over content versus free speech, Valve has decided to yank the game Active Shooter from Steam, but it didn’t stop there. Valve also banned the developer Revived Games and publisher Acid from its popular digital distribution platform, which are actually one and the same in Ata Berdiyev, who Valve described as a “troll” with an unsavory history towards its customers.
“We have removed the developer Revived Games and publisher Acid from Steam,” Valve said in a statement. “This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall when he was operating as ‘[bc]Interactive’ and ‘Elusive Team.’”
“Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation,” Valve added. “His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve. The broader conversation about Steam’s content policies is one that we’ll be addressing soon.”
Prior to its removal, Active Shooter was set to release on Valve’s online platform on June 6. The game drew criticism over its content, which tasked gamers with playing as a member of a SWAT team rushing into a school to stop an armed shooter from killing innocent students. The developer took it a step further, however, and announced a game mode that would allow players to be in control of the shooter, with the goal being to kill as many students and law enforcement officials as possible.
There’s no doubt the developer was attempting to capitalize and profit from the horrific events that continue to plague schools in the US, most recently at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida and Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. Between the two, more than two dozen teachers and students were shot to death in cold blood in the past several weeks. If nothing else, Active Shooter is in poor taste, arriving when emotions are still raw over recent events.
One of the unskippable scenes in GTA V has players torturing an informant.
And that’s where the controversy sprung from. Should the content of a game be reason enough to pull it from Steam? Many peopled argued in favor of the developer, pointing out that other games such as Grand Theft Auto V and various World War II titles all put players in position of killing others, sometimes in cold blood as well. In GTA V, for example, a player can pay a prostitute to have sex, then beat her to death and take back the money. In another part of the game, players are forced to participate in a torture scene that can’t be skipped.
Some people also pointed to Valve removing the game HATRED from Steam several years back, only to reverse the decision with Valve CEO Gabe Newell apologizing and saying “it wasn’t a good decision” to pull the title. HATRED drew similar criticism at the time because of its extreme violent content—players could take on the role of a serial killer and kill innocent civilians.
In the end, Valve avoided the argument while still managing to pull Active Shooter by focusing on the developer’s past infractions and previous ban under a different name. Valve also promised to have a “broader conversation” on its content policies, and it will be interesting to see what the company has to say.