Back in June 2023 Valve Software started rejected games submitted to the Steam Store that used assets created using AI generation tools. This was first discuss in this reddit thread by a developers whose game was rejected:
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.
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.
After making some changes and editing out the AI generated art, they got the following follow-up response:
Thank you for your patience as we reviewed [Game Name Here] and took our time to better understand the AI tech used to create it. Again, 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. At this time, we are declining to distribute your game since it’s unclear if the underlying AI tech used to create the assets has sufficient rights to the training data.
App credits are usually non-refundable, but we’d like to make an exception here and offer you a refund. Please confirm and we’ll proceed.
From this point on, the somewhat official policy with submitting games to Steam became “do not use AI content generation tools”. Valve did not appear to have made an official statement in this capacity (at least not one I can find), they did clarify and answer questions from journalists as covered here. (Link thanks to Anchorlight in the YouTube comments)
Yesterday Valve made a rather huge shift in their approach to AI generated content in games with the following release on their developer site:
First, we are updating the Content Survey that developers fill out when submitting to Steam. The survey now includes a new AI disclosure section, where you’ll need to describe how you are using AI in the development and execution of your game. It separates AI usage in games into two broad categories:
- 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.
Valve will use this disclosure in our review of your game prior to release. We will also include much of your disclosure on the Steam store page for your game, so customers can also understand how the game uses AI.
Second, we’re releasing a new system on Steam that allows players to report illegal content inside games that contain Live-Generated AI content. Using the in-game overlay, players can easily submit a report when they encounter content that they believe should have been caught by appropriate guardrails on AI generation.
Essentially the burden of responsibility is being shifted entirely to the developers. Additionally any games using AI tools, even including code generation tools like CoPilot, need to disclose this fact to Valve and will be tagged as such on their Steam store page.
We discuss the old and new AI policy on Steam as well as the ramifications of this change in the video below.