After significant controversy and backlash, Valve has removed mass shooting game Active Shooter from the Steam storefront. This move comes after many complaints from mainstream news outlets and anti-gun violence charity Infer Trust, angry at Active Shooter’s shameless exploitation of a current and tragic issue in America.
After being targeted by complaints of not curating their storefront and allowing games like this on Steam, Valve has removed the unreleased Active Shooter, as well as every other game by developer Revived Games and publisher Acid. However, this is not directly related to the criticism directed at Active Shooter, but rather because the game’s creator, Ata Berdiyev, had previously released games on Steam under the names ‘[bc]Interactive’ and ‘Elusive Team’.
Among other things, this individual had a history of customer abuse and user review manipulation, and his games were removed. The controversy about Active Shooter apparently led Valve to making the connection between its developer and his previous identity. Whilst it is positive that Valve is working to ban toxic developers from its storefront, the fact that it took so long for the company to react to Active Shooter’s presence on its storefront, and the fact that Valve didn’t seem to find anything objectionable about being associated with a game about committing a mass shooting, is questionable.
The game’s store page (whilst it was up), described the game as a “dynamic SWAT simulator” wherein players can control either a shooter, a SWAT team member trying to neutralise them, or a civilian trying to escape. Particularly in the wake of the rash of school mass shootings in the USA, it goes without saying that releasing a video game where the player controls a mass shooter is incredibly tone deaf and insensitive towards those impacted by such events.
This move by Valve is certainly the right one and a step forward in curating its storefront and removing terrible games and developers that no company should try and associate with. However, it still isn’t great that it took so long for Valve to respond to the controversy surrounding the game.