A video game that let players simulate a school shooting was set to come out on Steam, the PC’s biggest platform for buying and selling games. But Valve Corporation, which runs Steam, has taken it down.
Active Shooter, from developer Revived Games and publisher ACID, was set to release next week on Steam. But it drew a lot of negative attention, including from outlets like BuzzFeed and Kotaku, as well as the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida. Parkland activist Emma Gonzalez tweeted, “Valve Corp shut down this shovelware immediately please.” (Shovelware is software that does nothing new and is a quick cash grab.) Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) called the game “inexcusable.”
On Tuesday, a Valve spokesperson told Deadline that the company is removing the game from its online storefront:
We have removed the developer Revived Games and publisher ACID from Steam.
This developer and publisher is, in fact, a person calling himself Ata Berdiyev, who had previously been removed last fall when he was operating as “[bc]Interactive” and “Elusive Team”. Ata is a troll, with a history of customer abuse, publishing copyrighted material, and user review manipulation. His subsequent return under new business names was a fact that came to light as we investigated the controversy around his upcoming title. We are not going to do business with people who act like this towards our customers or Valve.
The broader conversation about Steam’s content policies is one that we’ll be addressing soon.
The ill-advised game, based on a video posted on Steam, would let you play either as a SWAT team member focused on stopping the school shooting or as the actual shooter. The game’s developer, it seems, saw this as a selling point — with the developer pointing out on Steam that “[o]nly in ‘Active Shooter’, you will be able to pick the role of an Elite S.W.A.T [sic] member or the actual shooter.”
The video showed a shooter running through school hallways and classrooms while killing — with firearms and grenades — police officers and civilians. Through a score counter, the game tracked “civ killed” and “cops killed.”
The developer responded to the outrage last week, saying that it “will more likely remove the shooters [sic] role in this game by the release, unless if [sic] it can be kept as it is right now.” But it also defended the game, arguing that there are worse games out there (“Hatred, Postal, Carmageddon and etc.”) and that it “does not promote any sort of violence, especially any soft [sic] of a mass shooting.”
For more on America’s gun violence problem, read Vox’s explainer.