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Valve says "legal uncertainty" surrounding AI models behind Steam pushback

The company said it doesn't want to "discourage" the use of AI content on Steam, but reiterated that devs must ensure they have the "appropriate rights to ship their game."

Chris Kerr

July 3, 2023

2 Min Read
A screenshot of the Steam Hub

Valve has explained the "legal uncertainty" over how AI models are trained means Steam developers looking to leverage the tech must ensure they have the appropriate rights to ship projects that feature AI-generated content.

In an email sent to Game Developer, a company spokesperson said Valve isn't trying to "discourage" the use of generative AI, and noted that its review process is a "reflection of copyright law and policies" and not "an added layer of our opinion."

Valve outlined its stance after it was reported the company has been refusing to publish titles that feature AI-generated content, with emails shared by affected developers indicated the company is indeed concerned about encountering potential copyright issues.

Notably, Valve said it's still figuring out how to cover AI-generated content in its already-existing review policies, and that it ultimately wants to "welcome and encourage innovation."

"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," reads the statement sent to Game Developer.

"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."

Valve added that while app-submission credits are usually non-refundable, it will happily refund them in cases where developers are refused publication because of AI-related issues. 

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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