Earlier this year, Sega opened the floodgates on mods of its classic games, enabling Steam Workshop support for Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics. This week, dozens of those mods made like the cast of Sonic The Hedgehog (2006) and vanished.
However, a number of legit Sonic mods were also affected, and it’s sent the Sonic ROM hack community into an uproar. Mods and ROM hacks banished to the nether realm between this reality and the one where Sonic games kept being good include Sonic 3 Complete, Sonic Classic Heroes, Metal Sonic Hyperdrive, Knuckles & Knuckles & Knuckles (lol), Mobius Evolution, Somari the Adventurer, Sonic 2 XL, Knuckles in Sonic 1, and Sonic 1 Megamix.
Many of those have been up for months and seemingly do not violate Steam’s terms of service. And yet...
That person, AJ Ryan, created 25+ “Chill Edition” mods, which make games easier to play for people with disabilities. All of them were banned. Again, it’s not clear how those mods would violate Steam’s terms of service.
On the upside, some creators have had success filing Steam support tickets and getting their mods reinstated.
I’ve reached out to Sega and Valve for an explanation, but as of writing, neither have gotten back to me. Right now, modders and ROM hackers suspect foul play.
“And here I thought Sonic ERaZor was a special case,” said a modder who goes by the handle Selbi. “At first I thought it was about copyright infringements due to my usage of Mega Man songs, but that has been debunked by simply looking over the list of hacks that got banned. When even Knuckles in Sonic 1 gets the finger, a hack that contains no external content outside of Sega’s stuff whatsoever, chances are it’s not Sega who’s behind this, but rather Steam itself. My call is on mass-flagging.”
Hopefully Valve will correct all of this sooner rather than later. Or, failing that, it’d at least be nice if Valve or Sega explained what exactly is going on.
Update 10/27/2016: Sega has issued a statement chalking up the removals to “erratic user behavior.” They’re now working to reinstate mods that don’t violate Steam’s terms of service. Here’s Sega’s statement:
“We’ve seen some fantastic mods created and released on the platform and want to encourage the community’s continued creativity by helping to curate a library of outstanding mods. However, due to some erratic user behaviour over the last few days, many mods which didn’t breach Steam’s terms of service were automatically removed from Steam Workshop. SEGA and Valve are working together with the affected modders to reinstate their work as soon as possible and have already reversed a number of removals. SEGA and Valve are not actively removing mods that do not violate the terms of service, only those that do. We appreciate the help of the community’s self-moderation in removing illegal or offensive content to maintain the high standard of legal mods on the platform.”
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