Valve opens the door to more Steam games created with AI

Under new rules, developers will have to reveal their use of the technology. Valve says the change means it should be able to release ”the vast majority” of games that use AI.

Valve has issued new rules about how game developers can launch games that use AI technology on Steam. Writing in a blog post, the company says that it is “making changes to how we handle games that use AI technology” which mean that developers will need to identify when their games use it. The changes “will enable us to release the vast majority of games that use” AI, Valve’s post says.

The changes appear meant to increase transparency around the use of AI in Steam games, while offering protections against the risks of using AI generated content and allowing customers to make an informed choice about whether to buy a game that uses AI technology.

Under the new rules, developers will need to disclose when games contain pre-generated content (like art, code, or sound) made with the help of AI and promise that it’s not “illegal or infringing.” They’ll also need to say if their game has AI content that is made “live” while it is running. It’s in the latter case when developers will need to explain the safety measures they put in place to stop their AI from generating illegal content. Players will be able to see on a game’s store page if it contains AI, and have new options to report illegal AI-generated content if they meet it in-game.

The release of the new rules comes around half a year after several developers complained that Valve was rejecting Steam game submissions having AI generated assets. In one case, Valve said that a submitted title contained “art assets generated by artificial intelligence that [appeared] to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties.” It said that it could not ship such a game unless its creator could confirm they owned the rights to “all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets” in the game.

In a followup statement released in July, Valve spokesperson Kaci Boyle explained that the company’s goal was “not to discourage the use of [AI] on Steam; instead, we’re working through how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies.” They added that Valve’s review process “is a reflection of current copyright law and policies, not an added layer of our opinion. As these rules and policies evolve over time, so will our process.”

While some producers have been keen to integrate the new technology into their games and production processes, the wider industry is split on the use of generative AI. On the one hand, several companies have talked about using AI to help with game testing, early concepting, or helping with expensive parts of the game development process like voice acting recording sessions. But others fear that AI could be used to cheaply replace existing artists and other creatives (reports of which have already started to emerge) and are pushing back against companies who share AI-generated assets.

Valve’s blog post suggests that its attitude and rules around AI generated material are likely to change as the technology and its legal framework evolves. “We’ll continue to learn from the games being submitted to Steam, and the legal progress around AI, and will revisit this decision when necessary,” it says.

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