Epic Games supports AI in video games amid rivalry with Valve

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Video game digital store Epic Games has confirmed that it will continue listing video games with artificial intelligence (AI) elements on its platform in line with its tradition of encouraging innovation.

Epic Games’ reiteration of its position comes on the heels of Valve rejecting games with AI-generated features from its PC platform Steam. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney said game publishers rejected by Valve should list their games on Epic Games Store, deepening the rivalry between both entities.

“Put it on the Epic Games Store. We don’t ban games for using new technologies,” said Sweeney.

Sweeney defended the use of AI in video games, noting that AI-generated content does not mean AI-generated games. He added that stakeholders should look at each case holistically, rather than outrightly rejecting a game over the presence of AI-generated elements.

Sweeney urged digital stores to consider the amount of human effort and creativity expended in the making of a video game, paying attention to the concept of “fair use.”

Things came to a head after Valve declined to list a video game from Reddit user Potterharry97 on grounds that copyright issues continue to trail the AI-generated content.

“While we strive to ship most titles submitted to us, we cannot ship games for which the developer does not have all the necessary rights,” said Valve. “At the 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.”

AI critics argue that developers are often in violation of existing copyright rules in gathering data to train their machine-learning models. Since the start of the year, leading AI developers including OpenAI and Meta (NASDAQ: META) have faced several lawsuits bordering on IP and privacy violations.

In light of the IP concerns, the U.S. Copyright Office has launched a public consultation seeking opinions on the impact of AI on copyrights. The agency is grappling with several issues including the copyright status of AI-generated content, royalty payments, and the establishment of a licensing regime.

Blockchain divides the gaming community 

Both Epic Games and Valve have previously taken opposite stances over the use of blockchain and its elements in video games. While Epic Games embraced blockchain, Valve and Steam outrightly rejected games with digital currencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) back in 2021.

“Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group,” said Sweeney at that time.

Epic Games Store will welcome games that make use of blockchain tech provided they follow the relevant laws, disclose their terms, and are age-rated by an appropriate group. Though Epic’s not using crypto in our games, we welcome innovation in the areas of technology and finance. https://t.co/6W7hb8zJBw

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) October 15, 2021

Valve failed to give a reason for banning blockchain-based games but pundits cited the technical and regulatory uncertainty around digital currencies and NFTs as a potential reason.

Watch: Blockchain Data Power-Ups and NFTs for eSports & Online Games

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