Valve allows AI content on Steam
Game developers can use AI-generated content in games listed on Steam, but only if it isn’t generated using copyright-infringing content.
That’s the official line from Valve, the creator of game publishing platform Steam, which it made in response to a June Reddit post that’s been making the rounds about a developer who had his game rejected by Steam for using AI.
Developer Artoonu, who specializes in creating NSFW games (think furries and hentai), said the company asked him to “affirmatively confirm that you own the rights to all of the IP used in the data set that trained the AI to create the assets in your game” for it to be accepted, which is an impossible ask.
Valve, it seems, is worried about the legal implications of hosting AI-generated content. And perhaps it should be. Artists are furious about the fact that AI image generators are trained using their work. ChatGPT pulls massive amounts of data from the web, much of which is copyrighted. Recordings of voice artists from years ago have been dug up and are being used by companies to train AI voice models without their explicit consent.
Valve spokesperson Kaci Boyle told Gizmodo this week that the introduction of AI was making it harder to show that a developer has sufficient IP rights when they use AI to create assets, including images, text and music.
“In particular, there is some legal uncertainty relating to data used to train AI models. It is the developer’s responsibility to make sure they have the appropriate rights to ship their game,” Boyle said.
AI is a double-edged sword. For its detractors, it is robbing artists of rights and work. For its proponents, it is bringing them a whole new suite of creative tools. Artoonu said AI brought their creativity to “an all-time high.”
“There were almost no limits to what kind of story I can write. I could generate almost every background I imagined and its wobbliness added a charm to it which I loved. Additionally, my efficiency doubled or was even better. I could focus on characters and dialogue instead of drawing,” they said.
Gods Unchained, My Pet Hooligan launch on Epic Games Store
Immutable’s trading card game Gods Unchained and AMGI’s My Pet Hooligan are the latest Web3 games to join the Epic Games Store.
Gods Unchained gameplay. (Epic Games/Gods Unchained)
Launched in 2019, Gods Unchained is a Magic: The Gathering-esque card game where each card is an NFT. Its executive producer, Daniel Paez, said in a statement that it was hard to overestimate the significance of the game launching on one of the largest PC gaming platforms in the world. Epic Games has over 230 million users.
“We are extremely excited to present our game to a completely new and truly massive audience of traditional PC gamers and TCG enthusiasts. It is a natural continuation of our journey and makes good on our promise to our community to continue to bring Gods Unchained to a new and diverse player base,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the rabbit-themed metaverse where the big bad is basically Mark Zuckerberg, My Pet Hooligan finally announced it had been approved by Epic on June 28. It had pushed back its original launch date as it went through the approval process for shipping through the store.
The two games will join other Web3 games that have put content on Epic, including Star Atlas and Gala Games’ Grit.
Ubisoft’s first Web3 game
A little-known Japanese blockchain company is mopping up when it comes to collaborations with gaming giants.
Oasys, a gaming-focused blockchain whose founders include higher-ups from the likes of Bandai Namco and PlayStation, is working on Web3 games based on IP from Ubisoft and Sega.
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Ubisoft is planning to launch its first Web3 game built on the chain. Champions Tactics: Grimoria Chronicles will be a player-versus-player tactical role-playing game.
The announcement comes after Ubisoft has found some success in the NFT space with its Rabbids NFTs and collaborations with The Sandbox. However, it also canceled a rumored NFT arena battler dubbed Project Q in January.
Sangokushi Taisen, an old Sega arcade game, will also be getting a makeover on Oasys courtesy of blockchain gaming company Double Jump Tokyo. It’s currently under development and is expected to come out by the end of this year.
Super Mario crypto-stealing malware
A popular fan-made Super Mario game installer wants to steal your crypto, warns a report from Cyble Research & Intelligence Labs.
Cybercriminals are distributing a modified version of the installer for Super Mario 3: Mario Forever containing malicious software through social media and forums.
The installer includes XMR Miner, a program that mines privacy-focused coin Monero, and Umbral Stealer, which steals information from a victim’s machine including browser-stored logins and credentials, cryptocurrency wallet keys and session tokens.
Umbral Stealer is particularly good at allowing criminals to compromise social media and gaming accounts such as Telegram, Discord, Roblox and Minecraft. It can also screenshot and access webcam footage.
First launched in 2004, Mario Forever is an unofficial game based on the Nintendo franchise with nearly 17 million downloads through CNET alone. Fan-made versions of Super Mario are popular on PC, as almost all of the official 24 original Super Mario games — as well as its spinoffs, remakes and remasters — are only available on Nintendo’s own platforms.
Mario came to PCs via fan-made versions of the Nintendo classic. (Mario Forever)
Games are an ideal method for getting users to unwittingly install malware on their computers. The large file size and general trust of game installers make it less likely for malware to be detected, while the large number of gamers provides ample targets. But there are ways to protect yourself by only downloading games from official sources, being careful when downloading mods and using a password manager instead of saving passwords in your browser.
And if some dodgy site is offering something too good to be true, such as a game that hasn’t been released yet, maybe don’t believe it.
Hot Take: Paradise Tycoon
My initial plan for this fortnight’s hot take was Yuga Labs’ HV-MTL (see below in “Other Stuff”), but the limited access version doesn’t seem to be available yet, and for some bizarre reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to pay more than $1,000 for a game. Shocker, I know.
So instead, I’ve taken a look at a cute little island game from Finland called Paradise Tycoon.
As the team behind it notes on Medium, “Finland is not only known for being the Happiest Country In The World, for its saunas, Santa Claus and Nokia, but also for the thriving games industry.” The home of Angry Birds and Clash of Clans, the country generates around $3 billion in gaming revenue a year.
Making things at the forge in Paradise Tycoon. (Empires Not Vampires)
Paradise Tycoon’s maker, Empires Not Vampires was founded in 2017 and focused on idle tycoon games before pivoting to blockchain with this newest release. It may be Web3, but Paradise Tycoon will still be familiar and not intimidating to those more familiar with Web2 games.
Set on a tropical island – beware the sharks in the water that will eat and kill you – its white paper dubs it a “balanced interplay between collecting resources, crafting, trading, building, questing and social interaction.”
The company claims the game has seen more than 200,000 downloads since Paradise Tycoon launched on Android and browsers.
Part of why it may have fared well compared with other launches is that the onboarding is easy. You can set it up without connecting a wallet – you don’t even need an email address – but the option is there if you want to. This beats many NFT games out there that demand not just your wallet and email but quite often the rights to your first child and an itemized list of everything you had for dinner last month.
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Combine the ease of onboarding with adorable artwork – the characters are extremely cute – and it makes for a nice introduction to what the team has to offer. Sure, the crafting process could be less laborious, and it’d be nice to have more character customization, but it’s a small price to pay for a playable game, which is still a rarity in Web3.
— Yuga Labs has launched another game that isn’t the long-awaited Otherside metaverse. HV-MTL (pronounced “heavy metal) Forge is a token-gated competitive crafting game. A limited version will be available to non-NFT holders. “Think of it like Tamagotchi meets Homescapes meets some kind of popularity contest,” said Spencer Tucker, the chief gaming officer at Yuga Labs.
— Heroes of Mavia launched its beta on July 1. The MMO strategy game by Skrice Studios is based on the fantasy island of Mavia, and players can build bases and engage in battles.
— Web3 gaming studio Mythical Games raised $37 million in a Series C extension round following a raise of $150 million in November 2021. Participants in the latest raise include Animoca Brands, a16z and ARK Invest. It plans to raise an additional $20 million to $30 million later this year.
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Callan Quinn is a British freelance journalist covering crypto and tech. She has worked as a business journalist in China, the UK, Somaliland and the republic of Georgia. Previously, she was also an NFTs, gaming and metaverse reporter at The Block.