Steam bans game over removed AI feature

Heard of the Story? Steam

Steam has “retired” a game from their store after a game briefly ran afoul of the platform’s AI policy.

The creator of Heard of the Story? posted their situation to both Reddit and Twitter. They explained that the game briefly had a toggle which allowed users to hook ChatGPT into the game via API to replace throwaway dialogue generated by NPCs.

When entering Early Access, Valve allegedly required clarification on the game’s use of AI. Just to be safe, the option was removed from the game. However despite the clarification and subsequent removal, Valve persisted in removing the game from the site and the developer “can never publish it on their store again”.

About 3-4 month ago, I decided to include an optional ChatGPT mod in the playtest build of my game which would allow players to replace the dialogue of NPCs with responses from the ChatGPT API. This mod was entirely optional, not required for gameplay, not even meant to be part of it, just a fun experiment. It was just a toggle in the settings, and even required the playtester to use their own OpenAI API key to access it.

Fast-forward to about a month ago when I submitted my game for Early Access review, Steam decided that the game required an additional review by their team and asked for details around the AI. I explained exactly how this worked and that there was no AI-content directly in the build, and even since then issued a new build without this mod ability just to be super safe. However, for almost one month, they said basically nothing, they refused to give estimates of how long this review would take, what progress they’ve made, or didn’t even ask any follow-up questions or try to have a conversation with me. This time alone was super stressful as I had no idea what to expect. Then, today, I randomly received an email that my app has been retired with a generic ‘your game contains AI’ response.

I’m in absolute shock. I’ve spent years working on this, sacrificing money, time with family and friends, pouring my heart and soul into the game, only to be told through a short email ‘sorry, we’re retiring your app’…

Valve has adopted a strict policy on AI generated content, deciding that until the courts make a ruling on the ownership of AI generated content then games containing it cannot be sold on Steam.

While Valve’s decision would otherwise appear to be in line with their policy, the creator emphasizes that they never provided AI generated content in the game and that users had to have their own API key to even enable the feature. A feature that was removed anyway after Valve voiced their concerns.

It’s worth mentioning that the game does advertise itself as using AI, but only in the sense that its NPC dialogue is drawn from a database. No “Generative AI” is allegedly used.

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A basement-dwelling ogre, Brandon's a fan of indie games and slice of life anime. Has too many games and not enough time.

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