After re-examining Spike Chunfoft’s Chaos;Head NoAH, Valve has come to the decision to release the game on Steam, in what could be described as a fairly surprising turn of events.
The visual novel was removed from Steam before its October 7th launch, leading fans to speculate the decision was prompted by scenes of a sexual or violent nature involving teenagers in the original release. While the vast majority of these scenes were only described in “delusions” that were not shown, there were at least two scenes that suggested sexual assault was imminent.
Publisher Spike Chunsoft later explained they would not be releasing Chaos;Head NoAH onto Steam due to their “guideline-required changes to the game’s content,” further declaring that said changes “would not allow the game to be released to its standards.”
At the time Spike Chunsoft stated the game would still release on Nintendo Switch, and would seek alternative storefronts. At this time of writing, a petition to undo the ban has reached 4,954 signatures out of their original goal of 5,000.
Just a few days after the original announcement, Spike Chunsoft and Valve issued a joint statement revealing that “the previously cancelled Steam release of CHAOS;HEAD NOAH will launch on Steam on October 7, 2022, PDT as originally planned.”
“Valve’s content review team, the group that made the original decision, has re-examined CHAOS;HEAD NOAH and decided to reverse course and allow the game to ship on Steam, as is,” Valve stated. “We’ve also examined the process that led to the previous decision about CHAOS;HEAD NOAH, and made some changes to avoid situations like this in the future.”
Spike Chunsoft closed, stating they “also expressed its appreciation to fans with the following comment: We believe this decision is the result of the unwavering support from fans of the Science Adventure Series as well as all of the players who are eagerly awaiting the release of this title.”
“Your voices have been heard. We sincerely appreciate your commitment,” the publisher thanked. “We look forward to your continued support of Spike Chunsoft and the Science Adventure Series.” Chaos;Head NoAH is availble on Steam right now, having secured 9o% recommendations out of 72 positive user reviews at the time of publishing.
Steam had previously gained infamy for banning games with fan-service and an anime art-style, despite allowing adult games on the platform. In 2018, Valve announced that they would “allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.”
Yet despite the adults only category, almost 130 adult games or visual novels with anime art-styles have been delisted; according to the fan-made “Steam Banned and Removed Games List” Google Doc. A further 630 games have also been unreleased, and over 820 removed before launch.
Coupled with bizarre contradictions — Chaos;Head NoAH’s sequel released on Steam without issue, for example — Valve’s 2018 promise struggled to hold water. What will the changes to their content review process mean for Japanese games moving forward? And, what about those previously-rejected titles?