Steam adds official LGBTQ+ tag for games

Games on the Steam marketplace can now be marked with a formally recognized “LGBTQ+” tag, following one developer’s query and efforts to make the classification available.

As reported Thursday by Kotaku, the independent developer Yitz got the conversation started with Valve, figuring that the tag would be appropriate for their upcoming visual novel To The Dark Tower. How a game is tagged, particularly for smaller works, can be vital to its discoverability and success. Steam has hundreds of approved tags for the marketplace’s algorithm to pick out and recommend to players when they log in. LBTQ+, or anything like it, wasn’t one of them.

While developers could custom-tag their games, Steam doesn’t grant hub page functionality to non-approved tags, which is why this was so important to Yitz and other developers. A Steam representative suggested Yitz bring up the matter in the Steamworks forums, and they did. Now it’s available.

Kotaku reports that, in the discussion, there was some concern over whether such a tag would cause headaches that aren’t worth the awareness that is raised, particularly in attracting the notice of bigots or trolls. Developers ultimately reached a consensus that “people are gonna be shitty no matter what,” so they might as well take advantage of the visibility to those who really are interested in the topic.

Like many online marketplaces, a user’s browsing history, Steam library and other data inform how the storefront shows them new products. Having a lot of games tagged survival horror or roguelike, for example, will show games with that tag more frequently. Before LGBTQ+, the closest thing Steam had to this kind of a tag was “Female Protagonist,” which of course indicates an interest in diversity but is much more limited. So, Yitz seems pleased with this outcome.

Right now there are about 100 games with the LGBTQ+ tag in Steam’s “What’s Popular” tab. YMMV, as Steam includes and excludes products based on user preferences.

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