Steam has reversed its decision to omit LGBTQ+ horror game Scarlet Hollow from Scream Fest, its upcoming Halloween-themed sale. Scream Fest will run from October 25 to November 1 and feature "spooky games" appropriate for Halloween.
Scarlet Hollow developer Black Tabby Games initially lambasted Steam's decision not to feature the game as part of Scream Fest, accusing the platform of "gatekeeping us out of our own genre" in now-deleted tweets recorded by Gayming Magazine. Steam's original response to Black Tabby for its application to have Scarlet Hollow in Scream Fest was met with a decline that explained it was not "a great fit for this themed event," even though Scarlet Horror clearly identifies itself as a horror visual novel game.
"Coal mines sealed off after a deadly collapse. Strange creatures preying on livestock. Houses infested with vengeful spirits. The sleepy town of Scarlet Hollow has come alive with horrors, just in time for your arrival," reads the game's description on Steam. "You only have to survive a week. But you may not make it out in one piece."
In addition, Scarlet Hollow is tagged with Horror, Supernatural, Lovecraftian, Psychological Horror, and Gothic, all of which are appropriate for Scream Fest according to Steam's own event page.
What was worse is Halloween is typically peak season for horror game sales, and being featured on Steam's annual Halloween sale event can make or break an indie developer. In subsequent tweets, Black Tabby explained that the team was working "10-12" hour days in order to get Episode 4 out in time for Scream Fest.
"October is the month where folks who aren’t die-hard horror fans dip their toes into the genre and play things they wouldn’t normally play. For something like Scarlet Hollow, which doesn’t use jump scares and is a good genre entry point, this is the best time to get new players," wrote Black Tabby. "It’s incredibly difficult, but the consequences of not hitting that window are painfully real (and we’ll have plenty of time to take a break once it’s released). To get a canned response saying we can’t participate for arbitrary reasons takes a wrecking ball to that labor."
Thankfully, Black Tabby’s labors won’t be for naught this Halloween. Steam eventually relented following backlash from fans, and now both Scarlet Hollow and Black Tabby’s other game, Slay the Princess, will be featured as part of Scream Fest. Other indie developers, however, are noting that they’re facing similar issues.
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