Update June 20th 8:12AM: Spicy Horse's American McGee has confirmed that his games were likely removed from Steam due to a glitch. In a tweet, McGee said that he was trying to remove Akaneiro: Demon Hunters from Steam because it was "broken", but that this seems to have resulted in other Spicy Horse games being removed as well. He has publicly asked Valve if they can help him to restore those games to Steam, so this was likely caused by a glitch and not any objection on the part of Steam or a third party.
Update June 18th 11:04AM: Ready or Not has returned to the Steam store, and we now know why it was removed in the first place. Speaking in the official Ready or Not Steam community, Void Interactive told players that the game was actually taken down over a trademark infringement within the Night Club map added in a recent update.
The studio said that its initial claim, which was that Ready or Not was taken down due to a Steam backend issue, was made to "give the community [something] to latch onto as quick as possible". In truth, it looks like it was the name of Ready or Not's nightclub that caused the issue. Players have reported that the club, which was originally called Prysm, is now called "Neon" instead. We've reached out to the Prysm nightclub in Chicago to ask whether it was responsible for the trademark claim and to ask some questions about the reasons behind the claim.
Interestingly, the other games which were removed from Steam at around the same time, such as Mother Russia Bleeds and Grimm, remain unavailable for sale on the Steam store. Their pages are still live (although you can't search for them via Steam) and still bear a disclaimer which reads "at the request of the publisher, (this game) is no longer available for sale on Steam". This further suggests that these games were removed for a different reason. The exception is Spintires, which has vanished in much the same way Ready or Not did and which still remains missing from Steam at time of writing this update. Original story, which remains unedited for posterity, follows below.
Original story: Multiplayer shooter Ready or Not has mysteriously disappeared from the Steam store. The game has been unavailable for several hours now, and while developer Void Interactive says it's a backend bug, a recent update might offer an alternative explanation.
Why has Ready or Not been removed from Steam?
It's only been a few days since Ready or Not received a major update adding new maps and physics to the game. If that update made you want to buy the game, then sadly, you're out of luck; it's vanished from the Steam store, and nobody seems to know why. Yesterday, developer Void Interactive tweeted that it was aware of the problem and was speaking to Steam about fixing it. At time of writing, that still hasn't happened, and Ready or Not still isn't available on Steam.
Although we don't know why Ready or Not was removed from Steam, there is something that could give us some idea of a reason. It's fair to say the game is controversial; it's a game in which you play as a SWAT officer attempting to resolve tense hostage situations, and the developer has talked before about including things like school shootings amongst its levels. The most recent update for the game added a Club level in which a mass shooting is occurring at a nightclub, and since we're only a few days out from the sixth anniversary of the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016, that decision was obviously a controversial one.
It could be that Steam removed the game due to potential complaints; Valve's decisions on whether to remove games can be somewhat opaque, so the fact that Void Interactive wasn't told about this decision wouldn't necessarily be a surprise if that was the case. However, Void seems to think that the problem is with Steam's backend and that the decision to remove the game wasn't deliberate. The devs say they will update the game's Steam page and official Discord server when it's back online.
Other games are mysteriously disappearing from Steam too
It's not just Ready or Not that's vanished from Steam. Several other games, including the rather excellent pixel brawler Mother Russia Bleeds and the twisted fairytale platformer Alice: Madness Returns, have also been removed, although there is a key difference between these games and Ready or Not. In the case of most of the games that have been removed, their Steam store pages are still visible from a quick Google search, but the pages declare that the games are no longer for sale. Ready or Not's page, however, has completely vanished. This is also true of Spintires, a game set in Russia that was also removed from Steam recently. This might lead you to think that the motivation for removing these games is political, but since Mother Russia Bleeds still has a Steam page (albeit one on which you can't buy the game), there might be something else going on.
It's not entirely clear why Ready or Not has been removed from Steam, but if you're a big fan of the game, you can take comfort in the fact that it looks like it's still possible to install and play it as normal. The removed games' pages state that they are no longer "available for sale" on Steam, but you'll likely still be able to install and play those, too, so if you're yet to play through Mother Russia Bleeds, the store removal shouldn't be an issue. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.