How a school shooting game almost went on sale

A popular video game download store lowered its bar last year to make it easier for developers to find their creations. He ended up letting in a game that involved shooting at a school.

Valve Corp., the company behind the online store Steam, made a preview of "Active Shooter" on May 29, about a week before the game was supposed to go on sale. The elimination followed days of growing complaints from parents, advocacy groups and others about the school environment.

But the fleeting presence of the game on Steam, which attracts tens of millions of people every day, shows that the industry is still struggling with how to handle games whose violent and extreme content has become not only normalized but immensely popular.

Valve, a nearby company based in Bellevue, Washington, said it eliminated the "Active Trigger" due to concerns about the origins and motives of the game. It was not the first ultraviolent videogame to appear on Steam; has sold games, including "Hate" and "Postal," involving players who control a character who commits a mbad murder.

"You do not see atrocious content on the other major platforms because they have controls in place to avoid this sort of thing," said Gene Munster, an badyst at Loup Ventures. "Steam is more like the Wild West."

People can also download games through consoles like


PlayStation and


Xbox stores and applications owned by


and Google Inc., which oversees the presentations in various grades before making the games available.

Critics have launched against violent video games for decades, but they remain some of the best-selling franchises, including

Interactive software Take-Two
Inc. & # 39; s

"Grand Theft Auto" and

Activision Blizzard
Inc. & # 39; s

"Call of Duty". In the giant video game exhibition E3 this weekend, violent games will again be on display, as

Ubisoft Entertainment

next installment of "Assbadin & # 39; s Creed".

For many, however, "Active Shooter" crossed the line at a time when real-life shootings in the United States have become too frequent horrors. In March, president

Donald Trump

met with industry leaders to discuss the impact of violent games on children after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

By eliminating "Active Shooter" last week, Valve said he discovered that the game's creator had previously been banned from Steam, but subsequently sent games, including "Active Trigger," with a different name. On Wednesday, Valve said he did not want to decide which games people played and what creators of content they would create, with exceptions for games that he considers illegal or "directly trolling." Valve responded selectively to requests for comments and did not explain what it means to troll.

Identified valve

Ata Berdyev

as responsible for including "Active Shooter" on Steam. "Ata is a troll, with a history of client abuse, publication of copyrighted material and manipulation of user opinions," the company said in a statement. "His subsequent return under new commercial names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy over his next title.We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our clients or Valve."

Mr. Berdyev, who identified himself in a telephone interview as a social media salesman in Seattle, said he did not create the game but instead helped a friend in Russia list it. "It seems they tried to blame me instead of showing that they are censoring the game," he said.

Steam, which was launched in 2003, is among the largest distributors of downloadable PC games. Generates around $ 2.5 billion annually in PC game sales, according to estimates by the Wedbush Securities badyst

Michael Pachter,

who values ​​Valve at around $ 15 billion.

Valve asked customers in 2012 to review proposed games submitted by new developers on Steam, and then vote on what games should be fully available. But five years later, it allowed new developers to list the games as "very soon" as long as they paid $ 100 and the descriptions of their games met certain guidelines. Steam says that games with hate speech or badgraphy are not allowed, and games with violence and fun are allowed with warning labels.

The developers praised Steam for giving small creators an easy publishing path, with games that only take a few days to appear on the list as "coming soon". Many, however, said they were not sure what Valve did to evaluate their presentations and had no communication with the company during that time.

"Humans in Valve are very involved, with groups of people looking at the contents of each controversial title that was presented to us," the company said in its statement on Wednesday.

Steam has around 22,000 video games for sale or soon, with an average of 25 new games added daily, according to SteamSpy, a small company that collects data on the platform. Valve has approximately 450 employees, according to research firm PitchBook Data Inc.

In addition to owning Steam, Valve makes popular video games such as "Counter-Strike: Global Offensive" and developed the technology behind


Virtual reality helmet Live.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]


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