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 Updated: The Agony and The Ecstasy...

Games developer Madmind cancels patch and announces instead that Agony Unrated will be released n Steam


Link Here 8th June 2018
Agony A gony is a 2018 US survival horror by Madmind Studio

Players begin their journey as a tormented soul within the depths of Hell without any memories about their past. The special ability to control people on their path, and possess minded demons, gives the player the necessary measures to survive in the extreme conditions they are in

Last month it was announced that games developer Madmind was forced to cut its Agony game to avoid an uncommercially viable AO (Adults-Only) rating from the US games censors of the ESRB. Madmind promised that the AO version would be restored via a patch.

Madmind have now cancelled the patch citing legal issues. The company have said not quite so much material has had to be cut as first thought. The company said:

The censorship now affects only several seconds from two endings (out of seven) and some scenes that may be unlocked only after the end of the game.

Madmind have said that they will at least explain the cuts in a documentary video that will show the material that had to be cut for an M rating in the US.

The cut version has just been released worldwide and is 18 rated by PEGI for the European region.

Update: May still be the possibility of an uncut version

1st June 2018. See  article from oneangrygamer.net

madmind studio logoDevelopers Madmind signed a distribution deal for the game to appear on the Xbox One , PS4 , and Steam that ended up nullifying their ability to distribute the Adults Only patch as they had originally promised. It seems that this contractual agreement included a ban on patching games appearing on these platforms. However it seems that an uncensored version could appear elsewhere as long as any patches there cannot be applied to the games appearing on Xbox/PS4/Steam.

During a lengthy Q&A session, Madmind attempted to address why the game's uncensored version wasn't made available. They were also asked if it would be possible to release the uncensored content through a GOG.com version. According to Madmind, they responded:

The contract with the publishers did not allow us to make the Adult Only version. We could not do anything about it. Violation of these laws would cause huge financial penalties, which would result in immediate closure of the company and the game would not have been issued. Without publishers -- the production process would be interrupted and the game would not appear. We are in talks with GOG. If they agree, Agony will be released on this platform in a version with all patches and without censorship, with official AO rating.

agony cut scenes Update: Agony's censored scenes published in a video

 1st June 2018. See article from oneangrygamer.net , See video of deleted scenes from vimeo.com

Madmind Studio kept their word and released a video showcasing the original Adults Only content they had to cut in order to secure a Mature rating for the game Agony.

The NSFW video clocks in at 4:48 minutes. It features the content that Madmind had to trim in order to secure the Mature rating, this includes scenes of genital penetration, a couple of seconds of butt physics, various forms of infanticide, as well as a sequence involving demon sex and a succubus giving birth to a demon baby through a mutilated vagina.

Update: Madmind announces that Agony Unrated can now be released on Steam

8th June 2018. See article from steamcommunity.com

steam logoIt is with a great pleasure that we want to inform you we have found a way to publish the unrated version of Agony! Agony Unrated will be a separate title produced and published by Madmind Studio and without the involvement of any publishers. It features additional content and changes suggested by you -- our community -- as nothing is more valuable to us than you.

We are doing our best to offer Agony Unrated to as many people as possible. Our goal is for each person that already owns Agony on Steam to be able to buy Agony Unrated with the biggest discount possible on that platform -- 99% -- or release it as a free DLC . We are currently talking with the Steam representatives to make sure it is doable. Agony Unrated will be released about three months from now and it will include all the updates from the standard version of the game. Agony Unrated also brings:
Additional sounds in the game and the cutscenes.
Additional erotic animations for characters in the backgrounds.
High resolution textures and models -- without any censorship.
All the scenes that have been removed from the standard version of Agony .
Agony Mode unlocked from the beginning.
Additional content for Agony Mode (Setting -- The Forest, Boss Fight -- Baphomet).
Succubus Mode unlocked from the beginning.
Additional animations for Succubus Mode .

The whole team is working on patches and fixes for the game and we are planning to be releasing them until the most of you (if not everyone!) in our beloved community is satisfied with our game.

 

 Commented: Steam Gets Steamy...

Games distributor Steam decides to end the censorship of games. If its legal and honest it can appear on Steam


Link Here 8th June 2018
steam logoThe trouble with games shops imposing their own censorship rules is that the only brownie points to be won for censoring games are from the type of folks who don't buy games. Their own customers are highly unlikely to be impressed by unnecessary censorship.

Anyway Steam has explained its new non-censorship policy in a blog post:

Recently there's been a bunch of community discussion around what kind of games we're allowing onto the Steam Store. As is often the case, the discussion caused us to spend some time examining what we're doing, why we're doing it, and how we could be doing it better. Decision making in this space is particularly challenging, and one that we've really struggled with. Contrary to many assumptions, this isn't a space we've automated - humans at Valve are very involved, with groups of people looking at the contents of every controversial title submitted to us. Similarly, people have falsely assumed these decisions are heavily affected by our payment processors, or outside interest groups. Nope, it's just us grappling with a really hard problem.

Unfortunately, our struggling has resulted in a bunch of confusion among our customers, developer partners, and even our own employees. So we've spent some time thinking about where we want to be on this, and we'd like to talk about it now. But we also think it's critical to talk about how we've arrived at our position, so you can understand the trade-offs we're making.

The challenge is that this problem is not simply about whether or not the Steam Store should contain games with adult or violent content. Instead, it's about whether the Store contains games within an entire range of controversial topics - politics, sexuality, racism, gender, violence, identity, and so on. In addition, there are controversial topics that are particular to games - like what even constitutes a game, or what level of quality is appropriate before something can be released.

Common questions we ask ourselves when trying to make decisions didn't help in this space. What do players wish we would do? What would make them most happy? What's considered acceptable discussion / behavior / imagery varies significantly around the world, socially and legally. Even when we pick a single country or state, the legal definitions around these topics can be too broad or vague to allow us to avoid making subjective and interpretive decisions. The harsh reality of this space, that lies at the root of our dilemma, is that there is absolutely no way we can navigate it without making some of our players really mad.

...

So we ended up going back to one of the principles in the forefront of our minds when we started Steam, and more recently as we worked on Steam Direct to open up the Store to many more developers: Valve shouldn't be the ones deciding this. If you're a player, we shouldn't be choosing for you what content you can or can't buy. If you're a developer, we shouldn't be choosing what content you're allowed to create. Those choices should be yours to make. Our role should be to provide systems and tools to support your efforts to make these choices for yourself, and to help you do it in a way that makes you feel comfortable.

With that principle in mind, we've decided that the right approach is to allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling. Taking this approach allows us to focus less on trying to police what should be on Steam, and more on building those tools to give people control over what kinds of content they see. We already have some tools, but they're too hidden and not nearly comprehensive enough. We are going to enable you to override our recommendation algorithms and hide games containing the topics you're not interested in. So if you don't want to see anime games on your Store, you'll be able to make that choice. If you want more options to control exactly what kinds of games your kids see when they browse the Store, you'll be able to do that. And it's not just players that need better tools either - developers who build controversial content shouldn't have to deal with harassment because their game exists, and we'll be building tools and options to support them too.

As we mentioned earlier, laws vary around the world, so we're going to need to handle this on a case-by-case basis. As a result, we will almost certainly continue to struggle with this one for a while. Our current thinking is that we're going to push developers to further disclose any potentially problematic content in their games during the submission process, and cease doing business with any of them that refuse to do so honestly. We'll still continue to perform technical evaluations of submissions, rejecting games that don't pass until their issues have been resolved.

...

In the short term, we won't be making significant changes to what's arriving on Steam until we've finished some of the tools we've described in this post. As we've hopefully managed to convey, navigating these issues is messy and complicated. Countries and societies change their laws and cultural norms over time. We'll be working on this for the foreseeable future, both in terms of what products we're allowing, what guidelines we communicate, and the tools we're providing to developers and players.

Offsite Comment: But there a few pro-censorship gamers that beg to differ

8th June 2018. Thanks to Craig. See article from eurogamer.net

Many gamers will be applauding the new policy on Steam. Straight away it seems to have heralded the release of an uncut version of Agony . Yet their are some that prefer their games censored...

eurogamer logoSteam's content policy is both arrogant and cowardly

Yes, game creators have a right to free speech, to make games on any topic they like, as transgressive and offensive as the law allows. ...BUT... they do not have a right to publish these games on Steam. For Valve to confuse these two things is a deluded fallacy, and for it to offer this delusion as an excuse for an abandonment of moral values and an abdication of social responsibility is rank cowardice.

 

 Updated: InferTrust recommends...

Active Shooter, a school shooter video game on Steam


Link Here 31st May 2018
active shooter Anti-gun campaigners are highlighting a school-shooting simulator video game available on Steam. According to its listing on the Steam, the game lets players slaughter as many civilians as possible in a school environment.

InferTrust called on Valve, the company behind the Steam games store - to take the title down before it goes on sale, on 6 June.

The BBC report omits the name of the game but in fact it is titled Active Shooter .

The school-shooting game is described as realistic and impressive. And the developer has suggested it will include 3D models of children to shoot at.  However, the creator also says: Please do not take any of this seriously. This is only meant to be the simulation and nothing else.

A spokeswoman for InferTrust said:

It's in very bad taste. There have been 22 school shootings in the US since the beginning of this year. It is horrendous. Why would anybody think it's a good idea to market something violent like that, and be completely insensitive to the deaths of so many children?  We're appalled that the game is being marketed.

Update: Deactivated

26th May 2018. See  article from variety.com

Active Shooter comes out June 6 and calls itself a dynamic S.W.A.T. simulator where the player can be either a S.W.A.T. team member or the shooter. Developer Revived Games also plans to release a civilian survival mode where the player takes on the role of a civilian during a shooting.

Revived Games, the developer of Active Shooter have responded to the controversy.

Due to the high amount of criticism the game's received, Revived Games added it will likely remove the shooter's role from the game before launch unless it can be kept as it is right now.

Update: Banned

31st May 2018. See article from bbc.com

Active Shooter has been banned from Steam's online store ahead of release.

The title had been criticised by parents of real-life school shooting victims, and an online petition opposing its launch had reached about 180,000 signatures.

The PC game's publisher had tried to distance itself from the controversy ahead of Valve's intervention. Although the original listing had explicitly described the title as being a school shooting simulation, the reference was dropped. In addition, a promise that gamers could slaughter as many civilians as possible if they chose to control the attacker rather than a police officer, was also removed.

 

 Updated: Game over...

US games rating group ESRB is backing down from ratings for online-only games citing high volumes


Link Here 27th May 2018

iarc logoThe Entertainment Software Rating Board has confirmed it will cease offering free age and content ratings for online video games next month. The Short Form ratings process the ESRB currently offers for download-only and online games will be discontinued in June. The ESRB will continue with the higher cost Long Form ratings, primarily used for physical/boxed games. A date has not yet been set for the end of the service.

Developers feared that they would be forced to pay for the higher cost rating otherwise they would not be allowed to release their titles on key platforms like Xbox that demand a content rating.

However the ESRB's official Twitter feed responding that:

Developers of digital games and apps will still be able to obtain ESRB ratings at no cost through the IARC rating process. The Microsoft Store deployed IARC years ago and has committed to making IARC ratings accessible to all Xbox developers. So, developers should not be concerned.

The International Age Rating Coalition is a newer system for obtaining age ratings for multiple territories and storefronts with a single process. While ESRB single out the Xbox Store, it is also accepted on Google Play, the Nintendo eShop, and the Oculus Store.

There is currently no word on when this will apply to the PlayStation Store, but an IARC press release in December 2017 said the platform would be added soon.

Update: But major US games platforms do not yet allow IARC ratings

27th May 2018. See article from goombastomp.com

goombastomp logo On May 18, the ESRB announced it was putting an end to its short-form rating system. These so-called short-form ratings are what you typically find on independent digital games on Steam and the like. They're brief marks that give a rundown on the content of a game, and are usually hard to find, especially on Steam. What you find on retail copies of video games are long-form ratings. The key difference is that short-form ratings can be given free of charge, but long-form ratings require payment to the ESRB by a game's developer or publisher.

Console manufactures (Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft), as well as online storefronts such as Steam and GOG require an ESRB rating to be sold. That means that, in effect, video game developers and publishers will now be required to pay the ESRB before they can sell their own games.

So why is the ESRB doing this? The ESRB is keeping their lips sealed on that front, so nobody knows. It's likely an effort to promote their own subsidiary, the International Age Ratings Coalition (IARC) as a company spokesperson pointed out that developers could still get free ratings from them. The IARC is a group created by the ESRB (read: ESA) that's trying to create a unified age rating system internationally, doing away with PEGI and CERO and any other independent software regulatory group.

Or is it? So far, the only platforms that accept a rating from the IARC in place of the ESRB are Nintendo, Microsoft, Google, and Oculus. The ESRB says Sony has vowed to support the IARC soon, but even then, other online storefronts like Steam or Apple aren't on board, and the growing cottage industry of physically produced indie games will be required to go through the long-form ESRB rating process.

 

 Updated: A few miserable gits...

Australian censors ban the video game We Happy Few


Link Here 24th May 2018  full story: Banned Games in Australia...Adult games ban
We Happy Few We Happy Few is a 2018 Canada survival horror from Compulsion Games

We Happy Few is the tale of a plucky bunch of moderately terrible people trying to escape from a lifetime of cheerful denial in the city of Wellington Wells. In this alternative 1960s England, conformity is key. You'll have to fight or blend in with the drug-addled inhabitants, most of whom don't take kindly to people who won't abide by their not-so-normal rules.

In May 2018, the Australian Censorship Board announced that We Happy Few has been banned in Australia.

The censors noted that the game's depictions of drug use related to incentives and rewards, in this case the beneficial effects of using Joy pills, could not be accommodated within the R 18+ category.

The Soma-like drug Joy is used in the game to detract the citizens of Wellington Wells from the Orwellian reality they live in.

There's no word yet on if Compulsion Games will make cuts to the game to satisfy the Board, but it s often the case.

The game is set for release on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC this summer.

Update: A few unhappy developers

24th May 2018. See article from compulsiongames.com

The game developer Compulsion Games has responded to the ban:

compulsion games logo To our Australian fans, we share your frustration. We will work with the ACB on the classification. If the government maintains its stance, we will make sure that you can get a refund, and we will work directly with affected Kickstarter backers to figure something out. We would appreciate if you give us a little bit of time to appeal the decision before making a call.

We Happy Few is set in a dystopian society, and the first scene consists of the player character redacting material that could cause offense to society at large, as part of his job as a government archivist. It's a society that is forcing its citizens to take Joy, and the whole point of the game is to reject this programming and fight back. In this context, our game's overarching social commentary is no different than Aldous Huxley's Brave New World , or Terry Gilliam's Brazil .

The game explores a range of modern themes, including addiction, mental health and drug abuse. We have had hundreds of messages from fans appreciating the treatment we've given these topics, and we believe that when players do get into the world they'll feel the same way. We're proud of what we've created.

We would like to respond to the thematic side of We Happy Few in more detail at a later date, as we believe it deserves more attention than a quick PR response. In the meantime we will be talking to the ACB to provide additional information, to discuss the issues in depth, and see whether they will change their minds.

 

  Maybe it will give some smaller sellers a break...

Dominant online game seller Valve is adding new censorship rules targeting sexy anime games


Link Here 19th May 2018
tropical-liquorMultiple game developers have been tweeting about warnings received from Valve about the content included in their games distributed on Steam.

Apparently, Valve, the company behind the popular digital download platform, is cracking down on quasi-sexual content, threatening the developers involved of removal if the games are not censored before the deadline seemingly in a couple of weeks.

HunieDev,, developer of the game Huniepop tweeted:

I've received an e-mail from Valve stating that HuniePop violates the rules & guidelines for pornographic content on Steam and will be removed from the store unless the game is updated to remove said content.

All the games targeted so far have been based on anime style graphics with other examples being: Tropical Liquor, Mutiny!! and SonoHanabira.

The affected developers are particularly miffed as they have been careful to censor their games to meet the current censorship guidelines. They have also developed the idea to squeeze the games sold on Steam into the guidelines, and then offer gamers patches to restore the uncut version.

Other digital download portals are rallying against the censorship and are offering a new home for the games affected. JAST USA, MangaGamer and Nutaku have expressed on social media the availability to host the impacted titles, encouraging developers to contact them. Eg Jast USA have tweeted:

We're disappointed about Steam's new enforcement of their content policy, hurting good developers. VNs should be accessible to everyone, so we're making an open invitation to any VN developers who'd like to join our DRM-free store to release their titles.

 

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