Valve Explains Its Rules on AI Content in Steam Games

Published: July 1, 2023 7:03 PM /


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Quietly over the last few weeks, several games with AI-created or assisted assets had been blocked from releasing on Steam, creating increasing concern about the issue among developers due to the lack of any clearly announced policy on the topic from Valve. The topic gained greater attention when it was spread on social media sites by industry figures like Simon Carless, with developers wondering what Valve's rules are on the use of this kind of technology.

Over the past couple of days, developers watched, waiting for clarity that finally emerged today when Valve replied explaining some of their views on the topic and how it related to Steam. A core part of Valve's concerns, as a Steam representative told TechRaptor, is regarding copyright law, and ensuring that the works they sell don't violate it. This is a thorny area with Generative AI because of how it is trained on large amounts of data, and 'learning' from that process. Many times, the training set can be scraped from the internet, including sources that its trainer doesn't have rights to, creating potential copyright issues.

Here's what Valve told us:

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. Our priority, as always, is to try to ship as many of the titles we receive as we can. 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. 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.

We welcome and encourage innovation, and AI technology is bound to create new and exciting experiences in gaming. While developers can use these AI technologies in their work with appropriate commercial licenses, they can not infringe on existing copyrights.

It would seem that the games that ran into trouble with getting approval may have lacked the ability to prove their copyright of assets in the game, and thus got bounced. .

As we are seeing companies like Nvidia tout the promise of generative AI more and more, this explanation from Valve may slow down its use in commercial PC games. Helpfully, for those who are unsure, Valve also says that with their review process evolving on this topic, they are willing to refund application submission credits, something they normally won't do.


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