It’s no great secret that Steam is overflowing with anime games intended to titillate portions of its vast user base. But how many people pay attention to these seemingly niche games, really? Turns out, enough people do that two of these games ended up on Valve’s latest monthly list of top games.
While Valve does not provide raw sales numbers, it creates lists of top Steam releases based on “revenue generated during the first two weeks after release.” July’s selection includes big names like Wolfenstein: Youngblood and Oxygen Not Included, as well as breakout hits like Godhood and Streets of Rogue. Also, there are two sexual games in the mix, both of which have phenomenal names: LOVE³ -Love Cube- and CUSTOM ORDER MAID 3D2 It’s a Night Magic. The number is up from June, which had one sex game—Koikatsu Party—among Steam’s top games.
LOVE³ is a visual novel about a down-on-his-luck comics artist living with three women. Naturally, he sleeps with all of them. The game touts animations that “come to life and bounce up and down” and specifically notes that “all characters depicted are over the age of 18.” The sex scenes in the game are censored (likely due to Steam’s policies towards sex games), but it offers more explicit sex scenes to 18+ users as part of a DLC package—though these, in some cases, still include mosaic blurs. Fans don’t seem to mind too much, though. “Is okay to have mosaic censorship on it,” reads one Steam review. “IT STILL AWESOME.” “Shloop shloop sploosh,” reads another.
Custom Order Maid, on the other hand, is about managing a maid-themed bar where “gentlemen come and gather.” The premise: Your uncle hands you the keys to an establishment that’s in serious debt, and then he skips town. The main appeal to many, however, seems to be the ability to customize the maids who work at the bar, and—if you download a patch from adult gaming platform Nutaku—have sex with them. “In this game, you play god and fuck your own creations, thumbs up,” reads one Steam review. It is, in so many ways, Steam’s problematic id, laid bare.
You might be noticing a trend here: adult content patches. Steam has become more lax about sexual content in the past year, but the platform is still not an anything-goes zone. As for what is and isn’t allowed, that remains difficult to discern. Some games, like LOVE³, are able to host their patches on Steam. Others, like Custom Order Maid, keep them confined to third-party sites.
Still, sex games—especially anime-themed ones—are clearly doing big numbers on Steam now that Valve has opened the floodgates ever so slightly. It’s no huge shock. These games cater primarily to straight men’s sexual fantasies, and Steam is a platform dominated by men. I’ve yet to see a game that more specifically caters to the sexual desires of, say, straight women or LGBTQ folks achieving a similar level of success, but for reasons ranging from audience hostility to Steam’s rules up until recently, there also just aren’t many games like that on the platform.