Valve has recently been reported to ban a game application on Steam for using AI generated art. However, this ban may only serve to highlight issues with the company’s approval process.
Redditor potterharry97 revealed that his game had been banned by Valve in a gamedev subreddit that has since gone private. As reported by Ars Technica, potterharry97 shared the reason that Valve gave him was that the rationale for his rejection was “art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties.”
Valve’s message continued: “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.”
Now, potterharry97 explained that his intention was to use the AI generated assets from Stable Diffusion as placeholders, until he could pay and make original assets. He decided to change up the assets to remove telltale signs of AI generation, but Valve still rejected his submission. Valve stated that the reason for this is that it wasn’t clear if the AI tech had clear rights to the data used for generation.
Now, you may be wondering why we had been reporting this ban as inconsistent, when we clearly see an instance of a current ongoing ban and the reasons for it.
That’s because Valve does have a game with AI generated assets on Steam, right now. This Girl Does Not Exist, from Cute Pen Games, was published last September 8, 2022. This one is actually just a digital jigsaw puzzle game, but what’s noteworthy is that Cute Pen clearly states their use of AI-generated assets.
On the game’s Steam page, Cute Pen Games says:
“Everything you will see in this game, including all the art, all the characters, story and even a voice acting – was generated by an AI.”
We aren’t arguing that this game needs to be banned immediately. However, it is worth recognizing that Steam did not actually ban all AI generated assets on their games.
It’s also worth remembering that Valve hasn’t made an official announcement on this issue, and that all we know about it comes from this one person’s reddit.
AI generated art using data it does not have the rights for should probably be illegal, but as a legal and international matter, it hasn’t been decided yet. Until countries or other entities create laws or rules that place rules on what is and is not allowed, individual actors like Valve will have to make their own decisions on how to best approach this.