Steam is reportedly "not willing to publish" games with AI assets

Handheld-Konsolen: Steam Deck
(Image credit: Valve)

Valve has been "quietly banning" Steam games that include AI-generated assets.

According to an anonymous developer on Reddit, Steam owner Valve is "not willing" to accept games from developers who can't prove they own the rights to the original art or text assets used to train the AI algorithms.

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"I tried to release a game about a month ago, with a few assets that were fairly obviously AI-generated," the poster explained. "My plan was to just submit a rougher version of the game, with 2-3 assets/sprites that were admittedly obviously AI generated from the hands, and to improve them prior to actually releasing the game as I wasn't aware Steam had any issues with AI generated art. I received this message."

The poster then appended an email reportedly sent from Steam. 

"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," Valve allegedly said (thanks, PC Gamer). "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."

Valve is not willing to publish games with AI generated content anymore from r/aigamedev

Despite attempts to do precisely what Valve suggested and "remove all content that [the developer did] not have the rights to from [their] build", the game was ultimately declined. As a goodwill gesture, Valve "made an exception", and refunded the app credits used to submit the game.

In a statement to PC Gamer, Valve said, "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," the company added. "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." 

Valve recently announced a major update to its Steam application that brings a "fresh" new look, better notifications, a new in-game overlay and a new Notes feature.

Let there be no doubt about it – this is one of the biggest updates to Steam we’ve seen in a long time. And due to the popularity of Valve’s Steam platform, these changes will likely impact almost all PC gamers.