Holodexxx blocked: Steam’s adult content rules leave game studios confused

Holodexxx banned from Steam store

Adult virtual reality (VR) game studio Holodexxx has revealed that its products have been blocked from Steam, sparking debate over the game distribution platform’s adult content rules.

Holodexxx says it makes “photo-realistic adult stars in virtual reality”, using photogrammetry scanned models and chatbot technology for interactive VR experiences with digital porn performers. Real-life performers such as Reily Reid and Tori Black have been recreated in VR by the studio.

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The studio said it submitted three products to be distributed by Steam, but all were rejected. Holodexxx said one was a “PG-13” Riley Reid virtual model experience that the studio said featured “zero nudity”. Another was [NSFW] Meet Marley: an experience allowing the player to “inspect” a digital version of porn star Marley Brinx.

The third was Holodexxx Home, which allowed players to undress a fictional character and see her bring herself to orgasm.

Holodexxx said that Steam told the studio that the products were banned because they featured pornography. The studio said it had received little communication from Steam about the bans beyond this, leading to confusion about what the platform defines as pornography and adult content.

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On May 3 Holodexxx chiefs wrote in a blog post: “Our hunch is that Steam does not like the idea of nude models based on photogrammetry scans, but for their own reasons, are not willing to declare it. At the very least, Steam does not approve of adult performers in virtual form.”

SEXTECHGUIDE has contacted Steam for comment and clarification, and will update this article with any response received.

In 2018, Valve announced that the Steam Store would allow “everything” on its platform beyond “things that we decide are illegal or straight-up trolling”. Holodexxx said this announcement inspired the company to attempt to get its products on Steam, although Steam has outlined rules for content it accepts.

On May 10, at the time of writing, the rules did not mention the word “pornography”, although it was noted that “sexually explicit images of real people” are banned. Whether some of Holodexxx’s products break this rule could be viewed as subjective, as they do not feature images or footage taken in ‘real life’, but do feature realistic virtual replicas of real people.

In March it was reported that Steam refused to approve the distribution of Super Seducer 3: a game about a pickup artist that uses ‘real life’ video footage starring human actors. Richard La Ruina, the game’s creator, tweeted that “any frame from Super Seducer 3 would be Instagram safe (no nipples etc)”.

La Ruina said that Steam’s terms were “not at all clear”. He added: “We thought that making the game during Coronavirus was the hard part… but it turns out that that’s a lot easier than getting published on Steam.”

Many adult games have been allowed to be distributed on Steam – but it seems that the more visually realistic they are, the more chance they have of running into censorship trouble.

Until Steam issues more detailed clarification on what stops adult games getting approved, the confusion felt by the likes of Holodexxx and the makers of Super Seducer 3 is likely to continue.

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Jamie F

Jamie F

Jamie is a freelance writer, contributing to outlets such as The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, CNN and Vice.

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