Steam Is Blocking Games That Use AI-Generated Assets

A shutoff Valve for the AI pipeline.

After reports began to circulate that some developers were having their games removed from Steam on the grounds that they were using AI-generated art, like this Reddit post from a dev that says the ubiquitous PC game storefront rejected their game submission after they used AI-generated sprites as “placeholders” in a rough build, Valve has confirmed that it’s removed some games that use assets for which the proper rights to use can’t be reasonably confirmed.

Speaking to IGN in response to the growing story, Valve has said it’s still learning and figuring out its process in working with game developers submitting projects using AI-generated assets, saying it doesn’t want to actively prevent developers from using AI tech to create games but that it wants to ensure that they genuinely hold the rights to said assets. That’s tricky business, with the legality of AI art models pulling from libraries of imagery that may contain copyrighted works from human artists still an incredibly contentious topic.

“We are continuing to learn about AI, the ways it can be used in game development, and how to factor it in to our process for reviewing games submitted for distribution on Steam,” the company said in its statement to IGN. “Our priority, as always, is to try to ship as many of the titles we receive as we can. The introduction of AI can sometimes make it harder to show a developer has sufficient rights in using AI to create assets, including images, text, and music. In particular, there is some legal uncertainty relating to data used to train AI models. It is the developer’s responsibility to make sure they have the appropriate rights to ship their game.”

“We know it 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. 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,” Valve’s statement continues.

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“We welcome and encourage innovation, and AI technology is bound to create new and exciting experiences in gaming. While developers can use these AI technologies in their work with appropriate commercial licenses, they can not infringe on existing copyrights.”