Valve doesn’t want AI-generated games on Steam

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2023 06 30 image 4.jpg
2023 06 30 image 4.jpg

A hot potato: While generative AI images, both beautiful and uncanny, are seemingly taking over the creative world, some high-profile companies are adopting a cautious approach to the entire generative AI issue. Valve, who controls a significant portion of the PC gaming market through Steam, doesn’t seem very fond of AI-generated stuff at this point.

Valve has been quietly banning games with AI-generated content submitted to Steam. Spotted by Simon Carless, a Reddit thread by game developer “potterharry97” is seemingly confirming the idea that the largest store for PC games is approaching the generative AI world with little enthusiasm.

In their discussion opened on the subreddit devoted to AI-based game development, potterharry97 said that they tried to release a game containing a few assets that were “fairly obviously AI-generated” a couple of months ago. The developer wanted to just submit a “rougher” version of the game, and then improve the AI assets “by hand” to try and fool people (and Valve) about their true nature.

Valve, however, didn’t take the bait: the unnamed developer got a message from the company saying that Steam couldn’t accept the submitted game build with IP seemingly belonging to “one or more third parties.” The game contained art assets generated by artificial intelligence, Valve said, and the legal ownership of such AI-generated art – and the original data used to train the algorithm – is unclear at this point.

Despite being rejected the first time, the developer tried to outsmart Valve – a $10 billion private company that’s been pioneering the PC gaming business since 1996 – with some “improvement” of prompt-based assets by hand, so that they could no longer show “any obvious signs of AI” to Valve moderators and approval algorithms.

The trick was successful – in failing spectacularly. Distribution of the AI-generated “game” was “declined” because of the unclear legal status of current AI tech, and Valve was even polite enough to offer a refund to the developer despite app credits usually being “non-refundable.”

Gabe Newell’s company clearly did not want to do business with the developer anymore.

According to some opinions in the Reddit discussion, Valve doesn’t seem to have a standard approach with AI generated assets yet as their previous games were approved within days. Steam is already selling self-confessed AI-generated stuff like This Girl Does Not Exist, so there’s a chance that potterharry97’s game was rejected mostly because the developer tried to game Valve’s approval system not once but twice in a row.

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Abraham
Expert tech and gaming writer, blending computer science expertise