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Valve Is Not Discouraging the Use of AI, but Will Reject Games That Use Copyright-Infringing AI Assets: Report

As Valve revises its policies, game developers using AI toolsets will have to seek ownership of datasets from the companies generating them.

Valve Is Not Discouraging the Use of AI, but Will Reject Games That Use Copyright-Infringing AI Assets: Report

Photo Credit: Valve

Valve operates Steam, the largest online PC game store

Highlights
  • AI-generated images are notorious for stealing, repurposing existing art
  • Steam allegedly denied a Reddit user’s game for using AI-generated assets
  • Valve is offering refunds on App-submission credits to such developers
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Valve isn't discouraging the use of AI-generated assets in game development, but will take action on any titles that infringe copyright laws. Last month, Reddit user ‘u/potterharry97' claimed on the r/aigamedev subreddit that Valve was unwilling to publish his undisclosed game, which allegedly included assets that were generated using AI. The developer alluded to having further improved upon those assets by hand, only to get rejected again due to copyright issues and being offered a refund on purchased app credits. With the game industry grappling with the use of AI tools in their work, the famously tight-lipped publisher, which owns PC gaming storefront Steam, has now clarified that it's simply evolving its policy.

“We know it [AI] is a constantly evolving tech, and our goal is not to discourage the use of it on Steam; instead, we're working through how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies,” Valve said in a prepared statement to Polygon. “Stated plainly, our review process is a reflection of current copyright law and policies, not an added layer of our opinion. As these laws and policies evolve over time, so will our process.” The use of AI-generated art has sparked multiple debates regarding plagiarism in recent times, where the software simply repurposes existing art assets from corners of the Internet and mushes them together in a desired style. Valve is trying to prevent that from happening by encouraging innovation, as long as the developers use the work with ‘appropriate commercial licenses.' Basically, if Valve detects that you don't own the rights to a certain asset, it won't be accepted for distribution on Steam.

Valve is a bit unclear on how it would determine whether a game lacks copyright licenses for an asset, but will offer refunds for all app-submission credits in such cases, as the company continues refining its policies. This also highlights how difficult it's going to be for video game publishers in general to gauge art that was created using AI tools, shifting the responsibility onto developers to seek ownership of datasets from the companies generating the AI assets. However, considering most AI tools cannot claim to have legal rights over unpaid artists' work, Valve's statement essentially works as a discrete ban on all such material. No publisher would want to mess with the legal repercussions that come with it.

The use of AI in media also runs the risk of fewer jobs for artists. Marvel's Secret Invasion, which premiered late last month, featured an oddly shapeshifting intro, wherein the art resembled something that would come out of an AI toolset. Method Studios, the folks behind the opening, later confessed to it in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, clarifying that no artist jobs were replaced by incorporating those tools. The studio claimed that the entire production involved ‘traditional work of the art department, animators, compositors, and other artists,' stressing that AI was only used to create the characters' attributes and the odd movements.

In other news, Steam is currently hosting its annual Summer Sale, offering discounts of up to 85 percent on select titles. Some of these games, however, are being offered at better prices on the GreenManGaming (GMG) storefront, so we'd recommend comparing prices before you make any purchases. Indian debit cardholders will have to enable international transactions on their cards before getting something on GMG.


What are the most exciting titles that gamers can look forward to in 2023? We discuss some of our favourites on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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