Update July 3, 2023:
Valve tells gaming media that it rejects games with AI content, confirming reports from Reddit. The reason is that the developers cannot prove that they own the rights to the training data of the AI systems.
In principle, Valve would align its processes with the laws, but these are still in the early stages with generative AI. The goal is not to stifle AI innovation, which is “bound to create new and exciting experiences in gaming.”
However, developers would only be allowed to use AI assets in their work with commercial licenses and without infringing on copyrights. Since there has been no clear ruling that generative AI models violate copyright law, Valve is playing defense for now and waiting to see what lawmakers decide.
Regardless of any potential rulings, generative AI providers have the option to train their AI systems with material that can be proven to be in compliance with copyright law.
Original article, July 1, 2023:
Citing uncertainty over the rights to the data used to train the AI, Valve refuses to publish a game with AI-generated content on Steam. The decision is met with mixed reactions from the developer community.
The impending release of a game with AI-generated content sparks a discussion in the developer “AI game dev” community on Reddit. A developer with the handle u/potterharry97 reports that his game was rejected by Valve because it contains AI-generated assets. The developer backs this up with screenshots of Valve’s emails.
Steam justifies the rejection with the unclear legal situation regarding the intellectual property of such assets. After all, artists went a short months ago because their work was used to train AIs like Stable Diffusion and Midjourney without their permission.
The developer’s plan was to submit a raw version of the game with two or three assets that were “admittedly obviously AI-generated,” but to manually enhance them before the final release of the game.
While we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all of the necessary rights.
After reviewing, we have identified intellectual property in [Game Name Here] which appears to belong to one or more third parties. In particular, [Game Name Here] contains art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties. As the legal ownership of such AI-generated art is unclear, we cannot ship your game while it contains these AI-generated assets, unless you can affirmatively confirm that you own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets in your game.
We are failing your build and will give you one (1) opportunity to remove all content that you do not have the rights to from your build.
If you fail to remove all such content, we will not be able to ship your game on Steam, and this app will be banned.
Valve in a message to the developer
Second rejection despite editing
The developer improved the assets by hand and removed any “obvious signs of AI,” but the game was rejected again because the rights to the data used to create the assets were not sufficiently cleared.
“Thank you for your patience as we reviewed [Game Name Here] and took our time to better understand the AI tech used to create it. Again, while we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all of the necessary rights. At this time, we are declining to distribute your game since it’s unclear if the underlying AI tech used to create the assets has sufficient rights to the training data,” Valve wrote in the second rejection.
Reaction to this decision has been mixed within the Reddit community. Some users believe that it should make no difference whether a human or an AI creates the artwork, as AI-generated content mimics the human learning process.
Other users have expressed concerns about the quality of AI-generated content. They worry that accepting “bad” data could negatively affect the quality of the content generated.
Valve has yet to commit to a clear path forward
In the past, the developer has released games within a day or two, he said. Taking a week to get feedback shows that Valve doesn’t really have a standard approach to AI-based games yet, he said.
In fact, there are already several games on the platform that even explicitly mention the use of AI, he noted.
“But at the moment at least, they seem wary, and not willing to publish AI-generated content, so I guess for any other devs on here, be wary of that,” u/potterharry97 said. Next, he plans to give the alternative game publishing platform itch.io a try.
Looking ahead, it seems unlikely that Valve will be able to categorically exclude games with AI-generated content, given recent news from the gaming industry: AI will be an indispensable part of development in a few years, as shown by AI dialogues at Ubisoft, AI assets in Unity, or opinions of industry executives.
A quick resolution of the legal situation for current systems is not in sight and seems unlikely. In the long term, however, the issue of copyright is likely to fade into the background. Established providers in the field of generative AI, such as Adobe or Stability AI, are already emphasizing that they will only use training data for current and future models that is license-free or to which they own the rights.