A Koikatsu Party model posing for the player.

Does It Feel Like There’s More Porn on Steam? That’s Because There Is.

Every year, more than ever before is added.

Once, there was a time when you could barely find a mere tit on Steam. Those times have changed. In 2018, after an unexpected and highly controversial near-crackdown on a wide assortment of adult video games, Valve decided to change its content policies on Steam. Nearly anything would be allowed on Valve’s PC gaming platform, as long as it wasn’t illegal or otherwise “straight up trolling.”

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That policy has been tested over the years, and Steam itself has gone through content moderation growing pains. In some cases, developers have received inconsistent feedback from Steam on adult content within games. One VR porn developer even had its game outright banned from Steam for seemingly creating an adult video game with photogrammetry scanning. Steam isn’t exactly an NSFW safe haven, and for adult game developers, there’s always the risk Valve will pull out the banhammer for unexpected reasons.

That hasn’t stopped porn from appearing on the platform in record numbers, however. A quick look at SteamDB’s release statistics for games tagged with “NSFW” reveal that NSFW releases have risen every year on Steam since the mid-2010s.

In 2018, 93 games were released that fit the “NSFW” tag. That number jumped to 180 in 2019, followed by 261 in 2020. This year, a whopping 523 games tagged “NSFW” have already been released, including the official English language port for Illusion’s immensely popular sex simulator Honey Select 2: Libido Deluxe, along with two adult games The Mary Sue has recently covered the mind-boggling adult 3D chess game Sex Chess, and Vampire Survivors clone, hentai romp Sexy Mystic Survivors.

SteamDB data reveals Steam's NSFW games are gradually growing.
(SteamDB)

Similar upward trends can be seen throughout other NSFW-adjacent tags, too. The “Adult Content” tag has seen a yearly increase, starting with 148 in 2018 to 833 in 2022, and the “Hentai” Steam tag rose from 102 in 2018 to 531 this year.

In general, Steam also hosts more games with nudity and sexual content than ever before—both tags rose each year from 2018, as well. It’s worth noting these tags are more likely to include non-pornographic games where sex is depicted or characters may appear nude. Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Dragon Age: Inquisition are both tagged with “Sexual Content,” for example, even though BioWare’s sex scenes are explicit yet tame.

More research may be needed before we have a proper, holistic overview of sexual content on Steam. Steam’s tag system is community curated, so games are occasionally given incorrect tags as a joke. For example, Another Axiom’s VR multiplayer game Gorilla Tag is marked with “Sexual Content,” even though the game features no such thing—in fact, the game is known for its popularity among young children. The “Hentai” tag tends to receive its fair share of joke additions, too, including Dark Souls Remastered, a Call of Duty esports DLC, and a $199.99 shitpost FPS named fight.

A UI screenshot from Kaiju Princess, an NSFW hentai game released in 2022 on Steam.
(Mango Party)

It’s also unclear whether Steam’s pornographic content is thoroughly tagged. For example, the immensely popular and in-depth sex simulator Virt-A-Mate + vamX does not have the “NSFW” tag on Steam, nor do many of the sexually suggestive games from Cyber Keks’ “hentai games” bundle. This means Steam may have incomplete data on just how many adult-oriented games are on the platform.

False positives are less common with the NSFW tag, granted, and joke additions are generally exceptions to the rule. In aggregate, all the data points to the same conclusion: Steam has more porn games than ever before, and 2023 may just be porn’s biggest year on Steam yet. Now, as for whether these games are largely high quality sexual experiences, or mere shovelware garbage flooding the store’s main page, that’s another question altogether.

(featured image: Illusion)


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Author
Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.