Update 01/07/2023 - Valve sent over a statement here's what they said:
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. 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.
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.
Lastly, while App-submission credits are usually non-refundable, we're more than happy to offer them in these cases as we continue to work on our review process.
Original article below:
Here's an interesting one on Steam publishing for you. Valve appear to be clamping down on AI art used in games due to the murky legal waters. AI art is such a huge topic of discussion everywhere right now, as is other forms of "AI" like ChatGPT and it's just — everywhere. I can't seem to get away from talk on it from people for and against it.
In a post on Reddit, a developer who tried to release their game on Steam got word back from Valve that they have denied listing it. Here's what they sent the developer:
While we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all of the necessary rights.
After reviewing, we have identified intellectual property in [Game Name Here] which appears to belongs to one or more third parties. In particular, [Game Name Here] contains art assets generated by artificial intelligence that appears to be relying on copyrighted material owned by third parties. 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.
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.
If you fail to remove all such content, we will not be able to ship your game on Steam, and this app will be banned.
That developer mentioned they tweaked the artwork, so it wasn't so obviously AI generated and spoke to Valve again but Valve once again rejected it noting:
Thank you for your patience as we reviewed [Game Name Here] and took our time to better understand the AI tech used to create it. Again, while we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all of the necessary rights. At this time, we are declining to distribute your game since it’s unclear if the underlying AI tech used to create the assets has sufficient rights to the training data.
App credits are usually non-refundable, but we’d like to make an exception here and offer you a refund. Please confirm and we’ll proceed.
Given the current issues with AI art and how it's generated, this really seems like a no-brainer for Valve to deny publishing games that have AI art unless the developers of the games can prove fully they own the full rights. Their own guidelines are pretty clear on it, developers cannot publish games on Steam they don't have "adequate rights" to.
That said, this is a difficult topic to fully address. With the tools Valve will be using to flag these games, how will they be dealing with false positives? It's not likely Valve will be individually personally going over every game with a human checking it, and algorithms can be problematic. It's going to be interesting to see how this develops over time. Seems like more developers will need to have everything they need ready to ensure they can prove ownership of all artwork.
I've reached out to Valve to see if they have any comments on it to share.
What do you think about this? Let me know in the comments.