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Valve doesn't want to discourage AI tech on Steam, but are worried about the "legal uncertainty" of it

Developers "can not infringe on existing copyright"

The two robot pals get ready to solve puzzles in Portal 2
Image credit: Valve

Valve’s policy toward AI-generated content in games recently made headlines as a Reddit post from June claimed that the company were tightening up their review policy in regards to AI-infused games.

The post includes a message from Valve saying that developers "own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create assets." Valve have now cleared up their thought process on the subject, saying they don’t want to discourage developers from experimenting with AI tech, though they need to make sure developers have “sufficient rights” before publishing anything on Steam.

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“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,” Valve wrote in a statement to RPS. The company says that the use of AI makes it difficult to gauge whether or not developers have the rights to AI-generated assets “including images, text, and music,” especially when it comes to the “data used to train AI models.” Ultimately, “it’s the developer’s responsibility to make sure they have the appropriate rights to ship their game.”

Valve continued to say: “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.” Valve finishes off by saying they “encourage innovation” from the use of AI tech, as long as it doesn’t “infringe on existing copyright.”

The growing prevalence of generative AI has made things messy for every creative field. I’m probably not the only one who’s heard uncanny AI songs while surfing the internet. You know, the ones that use the fake voices of real people and sometimes sound like you're shredding glass while the worst Soundcloud beat of all time plays in the background.

The debate is ongoing in the games industry as well. Ubisoft recently announced an AI dialogue-writing tool that would generate first drafts of NPC barks, prompting developers to speak out for and against the new tech.

Meanwhile, our Alice Bell recently had a pretty clear stance on robo-written words: "If you think writers should use AI you're a giant idiot loser." Sounds like something an undercover AI would say, to be honest.

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