07/03/2023 Valve has responded to our request for comment. It has been included below.
AI generated assets, created by well-known programs like Midjourney and DALL-E, are being regularly discovered in popular games every day, including in games found on Steam. However, a developer claims they were unable to publish their game unless they could prove to Valve that they owned the rights of the assets used to train the AI algorithms.
Posted on the aigamedev subreddit, user potterharry97 details their recent attempt to publish their game on Steam, which contained a few assets that were “obviously AI generated.” After submitting their game for publication, they’re contacted by Valve customer service and informed that the AI content had to be removed before they’d be allowed to publish their game.
“We are failing your build and will give you one (1) opportunity to remove all content that you do not have the rights to from your build,” states the Valve correspondent, according to potterharry97’s account.
If they were unable to remove all the AI assets, or failed to prove they owned the rights, Valve stated it would not be shipping their game, and it would be banned from Steam. The developer then tried to remove any obvious signs that the assets were created using AI, but had their game rejected after a second submission.
A Valve representative spoke in more detail to PCGamesN on the company’s stance on the use of AI assets when it comes to shipping games on Steam, in response to this case.
“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.”
The correspondent went on to explain that Valve’s goal is not to “discourage” the use of AI-generated assets on Steam, but instead work on “how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies.”
It’s worth noting that there are examples of games that use AI art on the platform already, namely High on Life and Atomic Heart. It’s probable that both games proved they owned the assets used to train the AI assets, which the developer on Reddit did not, but we can’t know for sure.