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Valve’s new AI Terms, but with a catch!

Valve has introduced new guidelines governing the publication of AI-driven games on Steam, aiming to enhance transparency and consumer awareness regarding the use of AI technology in gaming. In a detailed blog post, the company announced significant modifications to its approach, emphasizing developers’ need to disclose the incorporation of AI in their games. According to Valve, this move will facilitate the approval of a vast majority of AI-utilizing games for release on their platform.

The core objective of these changes is to foster transparency in AI integration within Steam games, mitigating risks associated with AI-generated content and empowering customers to make informed purchasing decisions. Under these updated regulations, developers must explicitly indicate if their games incorporate AI-generated pre-existing content (such as art, code, or sound), ensuring that this content is not illicit or infringing upon intellectual property rights. Furthermore, developers must specify whether their game incorporates live AI-generated content during gameplay. In cases where live AI is used, developers are required to outline the safety protocols implemented to prevent the generation of illegal content.

Prospective players will now be able to discern from a game’s store page whether it contains AI technology, and they will have enhanced mechanisms to report instances of illegal AI-generated content encountered during gameplay.

These new guidelines come on the heels of complaints from developers roughly six months prior, who alleged that Valve was rejecting submissions of Steam games incorporating AI-generated assets. Valve’s stance was motivated by concerns over copyrighted material in the AI-generated assets used in submitted titles. Valve insisted that developers must affirm ownership of all intellectual property rights associated with the data used to train AI for creating in-game assets before such games could be approved for release.

In a subsequent clarification issued by Valve spokesperson Kaci Boyle in July, it was emphasized that the company’s objective was not to discourage AI adoption on Steam but rather to integrate it into their existing review protocols in line with prevailing copyright laws and policies. The review process reflects legal standards and is not a reflection of Valve’s subjective opinion. Valve anticipates adapting its approach to AI-generated content as legal frameworks and technological advancements evolve.

The gaming industry is divided on the adoption of generative AI. While some developers embrace AI for testing, concept creation, or cost reduction in game development processes (like voice acting), others express concerns about the potential of AI to replace traditional artistic roles. Valve’s blog post hints at potential revisions to their policies as the legal landscape and technology of AI continue to progress. They express a commitment to learning from submitted games and legal developments surrounding AI, indicating a willingness to reassess their guidelines accordingly.