Over 1,000 games using generative AI content are already available on Steam — But are any of them worth playing?

Official screenshot of The Finals, the current highest-profile game leveraging generative AI on Steam.
Official screenshot of The Finals, the current highest-profile game leveraging generative AI on Steam. (Image credit: Embark Studios (via Steam))

Last year, we reported that Valve wasn't allowing games using AI art to be listed on its Steam storefront. Fast-forward to today, and following Valve's opening the floodgates on AI use in Steam games, we now know there are at least 1,000 AI-powered games on Steam so far. This statistic stems from an analysis by Ichiro Lambe, a 30-year game industry veteran, insider, and developer, on his site Totally Human.

By running a Python script and crawling the Steam Store for the now-required AI usage disclosure message, Lambe found 1,000 games listed relying on generative AI in some way. Usually, this means things like concept art and promo art, but sometimes AI art is also used as an in-game asset or modified before being used as an asset. One example given is The Great Rebellion, a 2D-pixel art roguelike that adapts some AI art into pixelized backgrounds for the game.

Throughout his analysis, Lambe concluded that games leveraging generative AI on Steam do so in one or more of the eight listed categories below.

Current Eight "Categories" of How Steam Games are Using Generative AI

  • Character and NPC Artwork
  • Background and Environmental Artwork
  • Concept Art
  • UI and Icon Graphics
  • Store/Marketing Imagery
  • Voice Acting and Audio
  • Narrative Content
  • Artist's Tools

Of the specific games mentioned throughout the analysis, the highest-profile release is The Finals from Embark Studios (built by former Dice developers from the acclaimed Battlefield series). The Finals leverages cutting-edge environmental destruction and modern large-scale shooter gameplay while also using AI to generate real-time gameplay commentary. Moral concerns of generative AI usage notwithstanding, this is one of the more seamless implementations of AI into games— particularly in the hands of such experienced developers.

The future points toward generative AI usage becoming more commonplace in games, whether gamers want it or not. Previously, we spoke about plans to make AI-powered "Neo NPCs." As cool and promising as that does look, we can't understate the potential negative impacts on the industry and art form as we know it.

Generative AI can potentially disrupt the labor market for artists, writers, voice actors, and other skilled workers who help make video games worth playing. But even if you don't care about that, any reasonable gamer should be concerned about the long-term future of games that rely on generative AI to function.

As-is, dozens of classic games simply are no longer playable on modern platforms without piracy or community-hosted servers. Sometimes, even those solutions will not be enough to actually keep a game in a playable state — and this is usually just for online multiplayer. 

Instead, imagine the best single-player RPG you've ever played — complete with immersive AI-backed NPC conversations — and remember that that game will cost thousands of dollars yearly to keep functioning. Major publishers can't be trusted to maintain multiplayer servers for more than a few years — why would this be any different?

If you're worried about your rights as a consumer, game ownership, and game preservation today, you'll be a lot more worried tomorrow. 

Freelance News Writer
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    If you're worried about your rights as a consumer, game ownership, and game preservation today, you'll be a lot more worried tomorrow.

    You have no rights, you don't own the game, and "game preservation" means a re-release every few years for more money.

    Generative AI can potentially disrupt the labor market for artists, writers, voice actors, and other skilled workers who help make video games worth playing.

    Generative AI also quite more likely means all the ambient NPCs, creatures, environment, and other aspects that they don't spend any time on whatsoever will actually become an appreciable part of the game, and the human developers can spend their time on main characters and aspects. AI also quite possibly means a large percentage of major bugs which plague modern games upon release and often months after are found and squashed before release so you can actually fully enjoy your game from day one.

    I think you're more worried that AI will replace "freelance writers" whose only job seems to be to find things posted elsewhere and post that content on other sites without proper citation, credit, or monetary compensation, the same thing Google, Facebook, and others are facing the heat for.
    Reply
  • 35below0
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    You have no rights, you don't own the game, and "game preservation" means a re-release every few years for more money.
    Case in point: What is Xcom? What is Doom?

    But maybe it doesn't matter as generations change.
    Reply
  • salgado18
    Instead, imagine the best single-player RPG you've ever played — complete with immersive AI-backed NPC conversations — and remember that that game will cost thousands of dollars yearly to keep functioning. Major publishers can't be trusted to maintain multiplayer servers for more than a few years — why would this be any different?
    That's a cloud problem, not an AI problem. I wouldn't trust a game that has a simple login or chat online to be maintained through the ages by any big corp.

    If the AI runs locally, especially with all the CPUs with NPUs comming, then that's not an issue anymore.

    I would like to see more clever uses of AI in games. One simple example that could sidestep an ethical issue is to hire voice actors to do the main story lines, and pay them extra for the rights to have their voices simulated by AI for random encounters, small NPC comments, even on procedural quests.

    Put AI on single-player competitive games, real-time content generation and destruction, storylines and dialogue, even cutscenes. Remain moral and ethical, keep everything local, and be creative. That is all.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    AI graphics and maybe audio is one thing.

    The overall story line is what I'm looking at.

    I would take old 8 bit graphics with an awesome coherent story line, over an AI 4k rendered thing, with a junk disjointed story.

    But thats just me.
    Reply
  • oofdragon
    Toms article title: one thousand games caught using AI content!!!!!
    You reading: they used AI to.creare the art for advertising

    I don't even know why Im still reading articles in this website. Guess today was the last one, moving on to a serious journalistic one.
    Reply
  • Amdlova
    USAFRet said:
    AI graphics and maybe audio is one thing.

    The overall story line is what I'm looking at.

    I would take old 8 bit graphics with an awesome coherent story line, over an AI 4k rendered thing, with a junk disjointed story.

    But thats just me.
    YOU are not alone :)
    Reply
  • peterf28
    salgado18 said:
    That's a cloud problem, not an AI problem. I wouldn't trust a game that has a simple login or chat online to be maintained through the ages by any big corp.

    If the AI runs locally, especially with all the CPUs with NPUs comming, then that's not an issue anymore.

    I would like to see more clever uses of AI in games. One simple example that could sidestep an ethical issue is to hire voice actors to do the main story lines, and pay them extra for the rights to have their voices simulated by AI for random encounters, small NPC comments, even on procedural quests.

    Put AI on single-player competitive games, real-time content generation and destruction, storylines and dialogue, even cutscenes. Remain moral and ethical, keep everything local, and be creative. That is all.

    I read "real-time content generation anal destruction" ... I should stop visiting certain websites
    Reply