Valve Takes Hardline Stance Against AI, Essentially Banning All Games With AI-Generated Artwork From Steam

Valve, a leading game publisher and distributor, recently had the gaming community question the policy on its game hub, Steam.

Certain policy details were spotted by a member of the Reddit community, claiming that it prohibits listing games created using AI-generated content on Steam. In doing so, Valve and Steam all but banned a number of games created using AI technology.

According to the company, AI-generated games are not welcome because their content was generated using copyright-infringing AI content.

Essentially, the AI that generated resources for such games was trained using existing images, artwork, and alike. The AI can create content can and will contain elements of such original artwork.

Valve Provides an Explanation For the AI Ban

Valve and Steam do not want to offer games that might someday result in legal issues for the company.

While Valve is famously tight-lipped about most developments, it did use this opportunity to issue a rare statement after claims emerged that it was rejecting games with AI-generated assets from Steam.

The company stressed that it doesn’t stand against AI. However, its policy was evolving, and AI-generated games will fall under the category of games that are unlikely to be able to comply with the rules.

The company explained that publishing a game on Steam is similar to publishing an app on any app platform. There is a review and approval process that the product must go through, and rules regarding content are not always clear until developers test them with edge cases.

So, when an indie dev posted on Reddit for other developers utilizing AI to see, they noted that Valve is no longer willing to publish games with AI-generated content.

On the other hand, the company argued that the indie developer’s game had a few assets that were obviously AI-generated.

The company further explained that it took issue with this

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.

After a week, the company notified the developer that it reviewed the game again, and it took time to better understand the AI technology used to create the game.

Once again, it stressed that it could not ship games if developers lacked the necessary rights.

Valve had to decline to distribute their game since this was the case with the game in question. It was unclear if the AI tech used to create the game had sufficient rights to the training data.

AI Cannot Claim Ownership of Data Used in Training

Given that most AI tools cannot claim legal rights over 100% of their training data — and even if they did, it would be incredibly difficult to fact check this — Valve’s policy prevents it from accepting the game.

It is worth pointing out that the company is not completely against the use of AI for generating game content and elements.

Major developers, such as Ubisoft, have admitted that they view AI assistance as helpful and potentially necessary to build massive games and publish them quickly moving forward.

However, AI that creates realistic terrain or helps switch up quest structures is different from using generative AI powered by art created by unpaid artists.

To clarify the situation, Valve said that their policy is more about what is legally required than about a particular stance on AI technology.

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