On the 31st of May, Blaze Entertainment, the company behind the handheld device Evercade EXP, and it’s subsequent cartridge releases, were called out on Twitter for using promotional art that seemed to be either partially, or fully AI generated.
For a while now, many of us have worried about the potential of AI generated content being used in the gaming industry, especially when it came to companies using it as a, “Replacement” whether it be for artwork and game assets, or even fully voice acted lines.
Today, a potential fear has been realized. During the Duke Nukem 1+2 reveal trailer, and subsequent promotional material for the game, many fans noticed something was, off.. Specifically regarding the artwork used to portray Duke himself. One of the biggest sources of concern, was Duke’s fingers. The way it was rendered around the gun just seemed wrong for artwork of that quality, with his finger count being off on one hand, and his finger phasing through his gun in the other.
People started questioning Blaze Entertainment to see who was behind the said promo image, and they just replied with, “A very talented artist”:
Eventually, the company relented (In a now deleted tweet), revealing the artist as Oskar Manuel:
While the people behind Evercade were thinking: “Well, now that we have sketches and rough drafts, this should be good enough to prove it wasn’t AI generated, right?”. Fans began to dig even deeper into the sketches and even the artist himself, and found more evidence that AI was used in either a partially, or complete manner when creating the promotional photos for the game:
Man, I did a first game art around 2004. No. SKETCH. EVER. LOOKS. LIKE. THIS. The very thing about the sketch – it shows you how things work. What exactly is the parts. Not a random strokes. Not just a composition. It should show you how. Exactly. Everything. Works. pic.twitter.com/Tuvuxkfsfz
— Hanyuu_central 🇺🇦 (@CentralHanyuu) June 1, 2023
After much pressure, Evercade decided to release a statement, removing all the artwork, and stating they are working on a replacement commission for the Duke Nukem 1+2 release:
People might be wondering, “What’s the big deal? It’s only a few promo photos, who would it hurt?”. Well, many artists livelihoods could have been at stake. Something like this could have set a precedent for companies to continue the use of AI generated content for major product releases, causing people who work on commissions and art finding it harder to make a living in an already tough field to begin with. Instead of that company commissioning them, they would just search out an, “AI Artist” or just slap something together in Midjourney themselves for a release.
The only thing that remains unknown, is if Blaze Entertainment knowingly used artwork that was AI generated, or if they were duped by the artist who they commissioned. While we may never know for sure, we know now they are aware of the issues fans had, and will be more aware next time when commissioning artists that use partial or full AI algorithms on their pieces.