Valve, operator of the Steam gaming platform, has updated its rules for games with generative AI.
In a blog post on Steamworks Development, the company outlined its future approach to such games. The changes affect both pre-generated and live-generated AI content.
Pre-generated AI content is content that has been created using AI tools during development. Live-generated AI content is content created in-game using AI tools.
The same rules apply to both types of content, but there is an additional requirement for live-generated content: developers must inform Valve of the safeguards they have in place to ensure that the AI does not generate illegal content.
Pre-Generated: Any kind of content (art/code/sound/etc) created with the help of AI tools during development. Under the Steam Distribution Agreement, you promise Valve that your game will not include illegal or infringing content, and that your game will be consistent with your marketing materials. In our pre-release review, we will evaluate the output of AI generated content in your game the same way we evaluate all non-AI content – including a check that your game meets those promises.
Live-Generated: Any kind of content created with the help of AI tools while the game is running. In addition to following the same rules as Pre-Generated AI content, this comes with an additional requirement: in the Content Survey, you’ll need to tell us what kind of guardrails you’re putting on your AI to ensure it’s not generating illegal content.
Developers must disclose AI usage
Valve has also updated the questionnaire that developers must fill out before releasing their games. It now includes a new section on disclosure of AI technology. Developers must describe how they use AI in the development and execution of their game.
Valve will consider the AI disclosure when reviewing the game before release. Most of the disclosure will also be displayed on the game’s store page so that potential customers can understand how the game uses AI technology.
In addition, Valve has implemented a new system for players to report live AI content in games that violate Steam rules, and developers must inform Valve of the safeguards they have in place to ensure that the AI does not generate illegal content. Valve does not currently publish live, AI-generated adult sexual content.
These moves follow reports in July 2023 that Valve had rejected games with AI content due to copyright issues. At the time, the company said developers couldn’t prove they owned the rights to the AI systems’ training data – a somewhat absurd request given the current AI market. But the company decided to err on the side of caution and wait for the legal situation to be resolved.
The new policy provides a more concrete framework for developers who want to use generative AI in their games and publish them on Steam. However, the legal basis for generative AI remains vague and depends on the training data from which the generative model has learned. Numerous lawsuits are pending.
Again, Valve’s statement does not provide definitive clarity, as it only refers to “illegal or infringing content” – which could theoretically include game assets created with generative AI if they violate copyright. Valve emphasizes that it will review and adjust its approach as the regulatory environment changes.
The gaming industry could benefit greatly from generative AI because it sits at the intersection of many technologies that could be semi-automated by GenAI: code, graphics, text, but also 2D and 3D assets.
For example, Midjourney recently announced its intention to generate entire 3D worlds at 60 FPS in the not-too-distant future. Midjourney “isn’t a really fast artist, it’s more like a really slow game engine,” according to Midjourney CEO David Holz. But Midjourney is also one of the generative AI tools getting hammered for possible copyright infringement.