Thursday, July 18, 2024
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Steam opens the door to more games developed with AI

If you ever thought to yourself, ‘Wow, Steam sure does let in a lot of junk into its store,’ then Valve’s new rules when it comes to AI will truly ruin your day.

In a new blog post from Steam, the company announced that they would be making changes with how they handle “games that use AI technology.” For one thing, game developers who use it would have to disclose that to Valve, as well as how the AI content is being used.

All in all, they’ve separated AI usage in games into two categories. The first is pre-generated, which includes AI that has been used to produce art/sound/code/etc during the development stage. To put it simply: if a game developer has used AI to create something like character art, the game will be considered to have used pre-generated material.

The second category is live-generated. This means any content created with AI tools that exist while the game is running. Apparently Valve has made it so live-generated comes with an additional requirement: developers will need to tell them what sort of “guardrails” they’re using to make sure their AI “doesn’t generate any illegal content.”

This seems somewhat reasonable at first, but those who use Steam regularly will no doubt know that Valve’s storefront hasn’t got the best reputation when it comes to removing video games that breach its rules and regulations. The fact that I have to use two hands to count how many games on there surrounding Hitler, Trump, and Alex Jones says much about the worrying state of the storefront.

It was back in June of 2023 that Valve clarified that their goal regarding AI was to spend time learning more about it, especially due to the “fast-moving” and “legally murky space” surrounding it. Now, in 2024, Steam feels more comfortable with opening up the gates and ushering AI content in.

Usage of AI has been met with a fairly negative reception, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only is AI seen as a low-effort contribution from a machine by creatives, but it also is “impossible” to create AI tools without using copyright material and, as such, breaking copyright law. This begs an answer to the question of how game developers who use AI will be able to do so without producing “any illegal content.” Because, technically speaking, it is actually impossible not to.

It isn’t just creatives that are pushing back against AI development, however. Actors from across the world are also facing their own reckoning, with AI tools being used to effectively replace their hard work with a carbon-copy of their voice to be used whenever.

With machine learning being a tool that big names like Ubisoft and Tencent are leaning into, all while mass layoffs flood through the video games industry, Steam’s positive attitude towards AI is hardly a surprise. What it means for the quality of games, and the people who make them, however, is hard to ignore.

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One thought on “Steam opens the door to more games developed with AI

  • Oh great. All I can hope now is that they get their a$$ sued real quick by somebody for something (more likely than not for copyright infringement) and their legal shield is not as tight as they think it is, so we can get this whole “AI” thing behind us.

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