Epic Games signaled this week that its digital storefront would welcome games containing AI-generated art, text, or other elements, even as competitor Valve has moved to block such content on its dominant PC platform Steam.

The dueling policies represent a rare public divide between the two gaming giants, which have increasingly postured to be the preferred venue for developers as they court exclusive releases.

“No AI in games is idiotic,” said Y Combinator CEO Garry Tan on Twitter, while pointing to a news article about Steam banning AI content. Shortly after, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney also critiqued Valve’s newly cautious stance toward the breakthrough technology sweeping the industry, inviting publishers to upload their content to the Epic Games Store instead.


AI-Generated Content Does Not Mean AI-Generated Games

There is an important consideration, Sweeny acknowledged, in how much of the development of a game has been done by a human. His views are similar to the concept of “fair use,” which is widely studied in the field of copyright.

"My view is that, while one could abuse generative AI as a copying mechanism by overtraining or conditioning it to intentionally reproduce something substantially similar to a particular work (just as a human artist can), that’s not usually the case," he elaborated in a later tweet.

Sweeney argued that games integrating both human and machine creativity should be assessed holistically under current law, rather than rejected out of hand over any AI involvement.


Epic Welcomes AI, Steam Slams Door Shut

Epic’s vocal endorsement of AI arrives after reports that Valve has begun enforcing an unstated policy of rejecting games submitted to Steam when they contain generative content that could raise copyright issues.

As previously reported by Decrypt, Reddit user Potterharry97 claimed earlier this month that Valve rebuffed his game over the use of AI-generated art assets whose legal ownership was in question.

"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," Valve responded in a statement—while conceding the law around training data remains unsettled. "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."

Epic Games’ stance to embrace technologies that are banned by competitors is not new: something similar happened after Valve’s 2021 ban on blockchain-based games over similar intellectual property concerns around the use of cryptocurrency and NFTs.

In response, Sweeney staked out the opposite pole, tweeting that “Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech and AI generated content.”

With Valve and Epic mapping out contrasting visions for the role of generative tools in game development, developers now face a more bifurcated landscape in deciding where to debut their cutting-edge creations.

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