Tim Sweeney says Epic Games Store is open to devs using generative AI

"We shouldn't assume all generative AI is terrible or infringing."

Epic Games boss Tim Sweeney has suggested titles that feature generative AI will be allowed on the Epic Games Store.

Responding to an X user who accused Valve of implementing an "idiotic" anti-AI policy on Steam after the company apparently removed a project from its storefront when its developer released an optional ChatGPT mod for playtesters, Sweeney suggested they bring the title to the Epic Games Store because it doesn't "ban games for using new technologies."

Earlier this year, Valve told Game Developer the "legal uncertainty" regarding how some generative AI models have been trained is why it's being careful about approving titles that use the technology, and said it's up to developers to show 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," added Valve, reiterating that it still intends to "ship as many of the title we receive as we can."

The issue, for Valve, is that AI models like ChatGPT have been trained using a huge amount of data pulled from the internet, meaning the outputs they produce rely heavily on the work of others. Valve believes this could create legal issues further down the line. 

"We shouldn't assume all generative AI is terrible or infringing"

Sweeney, however, said that while the copyright concerns around AI-generated assets make sense, titles that contain "a lot of human-made content plus some AI content can be protected as a whole, even if some specific assets alone aren't protected."

"The idea that art made from generative AI whose billion-image training set included a particular piece of source art is a derivative work of that source art is a massive leap beyond existing legal precedent. No court has issued any sort of ruling of that sort," continued Sweeney.

"And if it were the case, it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t lead by similar reasoning to the conclusion that every work done by a human artist is a derivative work of everything that artist has ever seen, by virtue of it contributing to the wiring of the neurons in their brain."

Sweeney said that while it's absolutely possible to abuse generative AI by overtraining or conditioning it to intentionally reproduce something that's "substantially similar" to a specific work, effectively turning it into a "copying mechanism," that usually doesn't happen.

He also said that Epic doesn't train generative AI on any customer content on its services or marketplace. "These are just my thoughts on why we shouldn’t assume all generative AI is terrible or infringing," he added.

On that point, Sweeney has previously stated that AI companies shouldn't be "scraping the web" to find and repurpose the work of creators.

During a chat with PC Gamer earlier this year, Sweeney discussed how the rise of generative AI systems might impact creators on ArtStation, the portfolio website owned by Epic, and said companies that are looking to turn AI tools into commercial products shouldn't be "hoovering up everybody's art data."

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