Steam welcomes ‘legally murky’ AI games, voice actors guild forges controversial AI deal


Valve waited until end of business last night to post big news: It’s going to allow AI-driven games on Steam, with just enough caveats to avoid too many legal entanglements for itself, of course.

While admitting AI tech is “legally murky,” the company says it will go ahead and publish AI games anyway – with required self-reported disclosures on pre-generated art, code, and sound, as well as live-generated content. Games will be forbidden to include illegal or infringing content and must maintain “guardrails” on the AI to “ensure it’s not generating illegal content.” The company says it will also publish parts of the disclosure for users and offer them a reporting feature specific to AI abuses.

We note here that abuse of copyrighted materials in many “AI” tools is not only rampant to an epidemic degree but a fundamental selling point of said tools; moreover, as MMO Fallout has been chronicling for years, it’s apparently trivially easy to slip fraudulent, copycat, and money-laundering games past Valve’s approval process. Somehow, we’re having a hard time believing that imposing what is essentially a voluntary honor system on uploaders and putting the burden on gamers to report lapses is going to work this time either.

Or as Aftermath put it, “Valve’s existing moderation is questionable at best; at time of posting one of the store’s most prominent sellers [in ‘New & Trending’] is a game about fucking your aunt and cousins, while another is an Alex Jones platformer.”

Even if it did work, the policy will surely contribute to the unwieldy morass of terrible games clogging up the platform. “Very cool of Valve to open the gates up to AI-generated content,” snarked TapTap’s Ian Boudreau. “I’ve been saying for years that good games are just way too easy to find, and how great it would be just to have mountains more shit to sift through.”

In other words, if you were looking to Valve to protect developers or consumers on this topic, best look elsewhere.

The news comes just as voice actor union SAG-AFTRA announced a deal with Australia-based AI company Replica Studios that essentially allows union members to participate in AI-related projects. Response from the games industry – which obviously employs a huge share of voice acting talent for video games – has been furious, to say the least, as actors point out that the precise details of the agreement haven’t been made public, nor were union members consulted before the partnership was signed by union leadership. And of course, the whole deal is bizarre given that SAG-AFTRA was on the picket lines alongside WGA in its strike against Hollywood just a few short months ago.

“Infuriating, offensive, and weak,” ArenaNet narrative lead Indigo Linde posted. “Our work doesn’t breathe until our cast gives it life. Nothing about this is okay. The actors that we work with on Guild Wars are some of the most brilliant performers and creatives. It is a gift that we get to collaborate with them on these characters. Their heart and their talent and their instinct will not be replaced.”

It’s all bad news after bad news for the industry and the creatives who pump life into it – but also for gamers who certainly aren’t going to be excited to pay for lower-quality games in the future.

Source: Valve, GIbiz
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