We had planned to release Smash MAGA! Trump Zombie Apocalypse on September 9th to honor the 50th year anniversary of the Attica prison uprising. The public beta release of our game Smash MAGA! had already been listed and playable on Steam for more than a month by the time we submitted our final release builds in advance of our release date. Unfortunately, Steam took longer than usual to review our submissions and allowed our release date to pass by, ultimately deciding to ban Smash MAGA! from their gaming platform.
In a perplexing harshly-worded rejection notice, Steam’s reason for the ban was that “this title contains copyrighted content”, and that “we are not interested in working with partners that dance around the edges of what’s legal. This app has been banned and cannot be reused. Re-submissions of this app, even with modifications, will not be accepted”.
Steam has refused to point to any examples of copyrighted content that we are supposedly infringing on. We deny that there are any copyright violations in our game, and any reference to an individual, institution, or corporation that may exist is obvious parody and protected by well-settled court precedent based on the Fair Use Doctrine and the First Amendment. We believe Steam‘s claim of copyright infringement is a false pretense to ban our game because they were afraid of any potential political controversy and reactionary blowback or perhaps simply because the reviewers personally disagreed with the message of our game.
Steam’s rejection of Smash MAGA! was also unexpected as they had previously approved both our Store Page and our Playtest Build through their review process: the game had already been playable on Steam for a month, and they had ample opportunity to give us an indication they weren’t going to allow us on their platform.
The rejection was also surprising because Steam has a supposed reputation for having a relaxed attitude about content restrictions. A statement on their website explains their policy is to allow “everything” except for “things we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling”. Very few games are banned from Steam; for example, in 2015 they reversed their prior ban on the game “Hatred” which features a “mass murderer” on a “genocide crusade”.
Previously, Smash MAGA! had been banned from other app platforms including the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Huawei AppGallery. Although they all have upheld the ban throughout several appeals, Steam is not offering any type of appeal process or the opportunity to modify and resubmit our game. Nevertheless, we will continue to lobby Valve Corporation to make Smash MAGA! available to gamers on Steam.
We are working to ensure that Smash MAGA! is playable on as many platforms as possible. It is currently available to play for free on Linux, Mac OS, Windows, Android, and iOS through direct download and manual installation.