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Valve welcomes AI games onto Steam (but only if devs promise they aren't doing anything illegal)

"We are making changes to how we handle games that use AI technology. This will enable us to release the vast majority of games that use it."

Chris Kerr

January 10, 2024

3 Min Read
The Steam logo repeating on a black background
Image via Valve / Steam

Valve will allow titles featuring AI generated content onto Steam as long as developers promise they don't include anything illegal or infringing.

The company last year indicated it was wary of allowing titles that feature AI content onto its storefront due to legal concerns, but is now "more open" to doing precisely that.

"Back in June, we shared that while our goal continues to be shipping as many games as possible on Steam, we needed some time to learn about the fast-moving and legally murky space of AI technology, especially given Steam's worldwide reach," explained the company on Steamworks.

"Today, after spending the last few months learning more about this space and talking with game developers, we are making changes to how we handle games that use AI technology. This will enable us to release the vast majority of games that use it."

To bring more AI titles to the platform, Valve has updated the Content Survey developers must complete when submitting projects to Steam with a new "AI disclosure" section.

As the name indicates, developers must use that section to explain how they are harnessing AI technology to develop and execute their game. The survey will separate AI usage in games into two broad categories, as described by Valve below:

Steam's AI disclosure 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 lean on that disclosure when reviewing projects before they land on Steam, and will also include much of the information provided by developers on a title's store page so customers can understand how AI is being deployed.

To combat nefarious titles that might slip under the radar, Valve is releasing a new Steam tool that lets players report illegal content inside games that specifically 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," added Valve.

The company said these changes are the result of it gaining an improved understanding of the landscape and risks within the AI space, and noted it has also been in discussions with developers using AI and building AI tools.

"This will allow us to be much more open to releasing games using AI technology on Steam. The only exception to this will be Adult Only Sexual Content that is created with Live-Generated AI–we are unable to release that type of content right now," added the company.

"It's taken us some time to figure this out, and we're sorry that has made it harder for some developers to make decisions around their games. But we don't feel like we serve our players or developer partners by rushing into decisions that have this much complexity. We'll continue to learn from the games being submitted to Steam, and the legal progress around AI, and will revisit this decision when necessary."

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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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