Rainbow-tinted games

Options for censoring sex scenes for Steam

2017-09-28 20:02:20

I'd like to include tame sex scenes to Rose Seed Replica, but Steam no doubt has issues with it. How to solve that?

Alright, so first off, the reason for the sex scenes is that I think that they actually add a lot to the romance of the main couple. Not so much in the lewd sense but in showing how the two can tease and mess up with each other without restraints. It just fits way too well to not be used in the game.

Of course, if I add those scenes, there'll no doubt be a problem with Steam not approving of the idea as is, and there's no other real option but to somehow make it work for Steam. So, I looked up the web for problems that developers have had with Steam's explicit content policy and tried to come up with solutions for my case:

1. CGs with below the belt stuff covered/cropped

There are games that have done sex scenes like this without getting banned. I have played a few myself, but I know none from the Stream Direct era, so I can't tell if the policy has changed recently.

However, there are also reports of Steam demanding games to be censored for less. Like, apparently you could get banned for this approach, even if the scenes didn't involve sex at all.

I guess indies would generally just distribute the sex scenes as separate patches to bypass Steam, possibly even if the CGs might fall under this category. Getting the game approved in one piece would certainly be more convenient, but it still seems like a gamble to me, and I don't think I can afford it.

2. Pixel art sprites with mosaic censorship

I don't know any pixel art games on Steam that have sex scenes, and I couldn't google up a whole lot of useful examples, so this is a bit of a question mark to me.

There was an example of a game being banned for 4 pixel genitals and being allowed back after adding mosaic censorship, but this was without the game having sex scenes of sexual stuff at all. Well, at least it seems clear that pixel art nudity without mosaic is a big plain no.

Nevertheless, I could easily imagine a sex scene involving animated pixel art sprites getting your game banned. After all, even with mosaic censorship and everything, it could easily be much more explicit than your average static CG scene.

So, again, this would probably be a gamble of some kind, and I don't have any clue what the odds could be. It would be cool if this was allowed, but I don't feel like testing my luck with my first game.

3. Text only sex scenes

I don't know of any text games with sex scenes on Steam, so this is mostly guesswork again. However, based on what visual novels seem to get away with, text only sex scenes sound plausible.

For example, in Starlight Vega and a couple of other VNs I have played, I found the narration far more explicit than the CGs, but I never saw anyone complain about the textual content at all. Well, I'm sure there's a way to make Steam ban you for this too, but you'd probably have to try pretty hard. Like, making a text game that is just one huge sex scene or something.

Anyway, at least as long as the sex scenes don't make up too much of the game, which is the case for me, and Steam don't just lose is completely in the near future, which I hope is the case, I'd expect text only sex scenes to be feasible.

My plan: text only + patch

I guess I'm just going to assume that keeping the text is fine and play it safe with graphics by splitting everything explicit into a separate patch. Basically, if you don't have the patch, the screen would just fade to black and you could only see the speech bubbles.

This should still work kind of decently since the explicit parts aren't that long and I could make the scenes end to a fade out and fast forward to the morning anyway. Also, splitting the explicit graphics to a separate sheet and checking if the file exists would be pretty easy to do in practice.

So, what about the graphics? I'm actually thinking of going for the animated sprites options, probably sans mosaic. Putting a lot of effort into CGs would kind of suck if half of people won't ever see them. Sprites are more fun to draw, so I can live with some people not seeing them, and I also think that the sprite approach would actually be more fun to play in the end.

Um, so, animated pixel art sex scenes. They had this covered in the 1980s or something, didn't they?

P.S. There's also an asexual route in the game. It's actually one more motivation for the sex scenes because what would be the difference if there was no sexual route to beging with?