Several months since its release the all-ages version of the visual novel Bokuen - Why I Became an Angel has been removed from Steam due to left-over pornographic CGs from the 18+ iteration of the title.
Overdrive's visual novel eroge about a young man working together with an angel and getting involved with the romantic lives of several individuals, first released in Japan in 2013 to receive an English release by MangaGamer in December of 2019. For the release of Bokuten MangaGamer prepared two versions, one for Steam stripped of adult sexual content and an uncensored one for their own storefront.
While initially, Valve removed Bokuten without any prior notice to MangaGamer, further light on the issue has been shed by a Daily Dot article, in which Valve's Vice President of Marketing Doug Lombardi informs the publication that Valve's initial approval process missed adult content depicting adult scenes with underage characters.
Lombardi further explained that said content was later activated by the application of an adult content patch and finally added that the developer, meaning MangaGamer in this instance, has been contacted in regard to this issue.
Lastly, the Vice President of Marketing added that the company content review process has been improved in order to avoid mistakes like this in the future:
When reached for comment, MangaGamer’s PR Director John Pickett told the Daily Dot that the publisher received an email from Steam several hours after Bokuten was removed from Steam. The representative with Steam responsible for the ban claimed MangaGamer had “added sexual content” to the game “that would not have passed our content review process,” according to Pickett. Pickett refuted this claim by stressing that no material was added to the game since its release on Dec. 19, 2019.
After contacting Valve for comment, Valve’s Vice President of Marketing Doug Lombardi said Bokuten was removed after discovering an external patch that activated adult scenes with underage characters. “In our initial content review, we missed content hidden in the game’s depot that features adult content with underage characters,” Lombardi told the Daily Dot. “While not accessible in the game itself without an externally acquired patch, we were distributing that content depot through Steam, therefor[e] the game would not have passed our content review. We’ve notified the developer, and improved our content review process to avoid this in the future.”
Pickett called Lombardi’s statement “incorrect,” as Bokuten’s adult material must be added externally, which he compared to downloading an adult Skyrim mod. “We took painstaking care to ensure that there was no adult content in the all-ages edition distributed on Steam and Discord [Store]. There is mature content befitting a mature title, but there is no adult content in the build provided by Steam,” Pickett said. “Our company does offer an adult-patch, and adult content is contained in the patch available solely on our own website and our servers. No adult content is distributed through Steam servers for Bokuten.”
Pickett also denied that the game’s 18+ patch activated scenes involving underage characters engaging in sexual acts. He argued Lombardi’s allegation was “a serious claim,” albeit “not the first time Valve has made such as false claim, as demonstrated with The Expression: Amrilato.”
“At present we’re hoping this issue can still be resolved amicably and we can see Bokuten restored to Steam,” he told the Daily Dot, “but this does give cause for all visual novel developers to worry when Steam can make such a claim and take such action after a title has been reviewed and cleared for sale.”
Despite the claims by Pickett, after a thorough investigation of the actual game files on Steam, Reddit user bad_spot has discovered leftover explicitly erotic CGs:
Commenting in the same Reddit thread, the head translator and PR Director for MangaGamer John Pickett has revealed they will be investigating the leftover overlooked CGs and presented his opinion on Valve's abrupt decision to remove the game from Steam:
We're investigating this now. Possibly missing the removal of 2 CGs out of hundreds does not make the fact that we took painstaking care to remove all adult content from the All-Ages build any less true.
The adult patch for Bokuten is 1.2GB due to all the content that was successfully removed from the All-Ages version, and we have absolutely no issues hosting that as a free download for fans, so hosting and distribution costs were never an issue here.
It also says something about Valve when we were not notified or informed of potentially overlooked content until we read about it in a statement to the press.
If this were Rockstar, Valve would have notified them and requested an update to the build before wholly removing the title from Steam.
Bokuten's removal from Steam highlights an ongoing communication problem between eroge developers and publishers and Valve, which over the years has led to multiple misunderstandings and bannings of titles from the platform.
The nature of what type of adult content is allowed on Steam has also been highly debatable and vague throughout the time period adult games have started establishing their place on the storefront. Taking that into consideration, however, sexual content involving underage, seemingly underage characters, and school environment settings, which would normally include minors, has been consistently removed or rejected from Steam in the approval process.
Establishing better lines of communication between the developers and Valve would be the obvious step to take for the company in order to improve mutual relations, but it is a move that Valve has been quite reluctant to make for a very long period of time giving members of the adult gaming community, and even the developers and publishers, an incentive to attribute malice to what can be easily explained with the lack of proper competency.
Bokuten - Why I Became an Angel is still available for purchase for Windows compatible PC on MangaGamer's storefront.