Microsoft’s Controversial Use of AI-Generated Images to Promote Indie Games

Microsoft’s Controversial Use of AI-Generated Images to Promote Indie Games

29. December 2023 by Valentin Pasetti

Microsoft’s ID@Xbox account recently sparked a heated debate by using AI-generated imagery to promote indie games, leading to a contentious discussion within the gaming community.

The Controversial Tweet

On December 27th, ID@Xbox tweeted, “Walking in a indie wonderlaaand. What were your favorite indie games of the year?” This tweet, accompanied by an AI-generated image, was meant to celebrate independent games on Xbox. However, it quickly became the center of controversy.

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The AI-Generated Image: Anomalies and Backlash

The image featured children sledding down a hill with a giant green Xbox logo, but upon closer inspection, it revealed several AI-induced anomalies.

These included children operating sleds with cranks attached to nothing, gifts being fished from the snow with strange black tendrils, and a man’s upper lip replaced with teeth. The surreal and somewhat unsettling nature of the image drew criticism from fans and developers alike.

Response from the Art Community

Prominent artists like pixel art creator TAHK0 and NecroKuma3 expressed their disapproval. One poignant critique stated, “If you can’t hire an artist for advertising, I doubt you do with independent developers.” Microsoft eventually removed the tweet silently overnight.

The Broader Context of AI in Promotion

The use of AI-generated art for promotional purposes is becoming more common, as seen with Amazon’s Fallout TV show and Pokémon GO events. However, the backlash against Microsoft’s tweet highlights the sensitive nature of using AI in a domain traditionally reliant on human creativity, especially in the context of promoting independent creators.

AI in Gaming: A Double-Edged Sword

AI technology offers immense potential in the gaming sector, but incidents like this create user resistance, reminiscent of the backlash against blockchain technology. The challenge lies in integrating AI in a way that enhances, rather than detracts from, the user experience and respects the art community.

Final Thoughts

Microsoft’s misstep with AI imagery in promoting indie games serves as a cautionary tale. It underscores the need for thoughtful application of AI in creative industries, ensuring that it complements rather than undermines the efforts of human artists and creators.