Valve updates its Steam policy on AI so it can 'release the vast majority of games that use it'

An AI generated image of the AI Shodan.
(Image credit: Nightdive)

Last year, after a game developer declared Steam wouldn't accept any game that used AI, Valve clarified that it was "working through how to integrate it into our already-existing review policies" and that "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."

Another step in that process has been taken, as Valve has released a new statement addressing AI content on Steam. "Today," it begins, "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."

There are two changes coming to Steam that will make this possible. The first is an update to the Content Survey, which is a form that developers fill out when submitting a game to Steam. The survey will now have a section where developers have to disclose whether they've used AI during development, and whether it was pre-generated (used to create assets pre-release), or live-generated (used to create content while the game's being played).

If that content is pre-generated, developers will have to "promise Valve that your game will not include illegal or infringing content, and that your game will be consistent with your marketing materials." If it's live-generated, "you'll need to tell us what kind of guardrails you're putting on your AI to ensure it's not generating illegal content."

The second change regards that possibility of an algorithmic tool creating something illegal while a game's running: "we're releasing a new system on Steam that allows players to report illegal content inside games that 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."

With these two changes Steam will be ready for AI games. Given that 14,000 games released on Steam last year, it'll be interesting to see how many more are made possible by this change. We're up to the point where the numbers are high enough to seem entirely abstract, so even if we see some kind of gray goo churn of AI-generated games piled on top it'll be hard to notice.

One limitation on AI content that Valve will allow remains, and that's regarding "Adult Only Sexual Content that is created with Live-Generated AI—we are unable to release that type of content right now."

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games. He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun, The Big Issue, GamesRadar, Zam, Glixel, Five Out of Ten Magazine, and, whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.