Square Enix Splatoon Clone Is Using AI-Generated Art

A Foamstars character walks out of an explosion of foam.
A Foamstars character walks out of an explosion of foam.

Foamstars, the legally distinct Splatoon clone published by Square Enix, is coming out on February 6. Alongside this announcement, we learned that Square is launching the shooter on subscription service PlayStation Plus, which will likely afford it a large launch audience as subscribers can play without having to buy the game (you need Plus to play online anyway). We also learned that Square Enix is using AI art generator Midjourney to create some of its in-game assets.

Speaking to Video Game Chronicle at a press event, Foamstars producer Kosuke Okatani said that while most of the game’s artwork and assets were made by hand by the artists at developer Toylogic, some of the art was created using AI.

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“As developers, we’re always looking at new technologies to see how they can assist with game development. In this instance, we experimented with Midjourney using simple prompts to produce abstract images. We loved what was created and used them as the final album covers players will see in the game. Everything else was created entirely by our development team.”

Midjourney has been a subject in ongoing legal disputes regarding the scraping of copyrighted material, and it was recently alleged that its creators scraped art from Magic: The Gathering cards to teach the program to generate art based on text prompts. Using AI-generated art is disrespectful to all the artists working on Foamstars and other projects at Square Enix, and is becoming more prominent in the video game industry as the bigwigs at companies like Xbox, Ubisoft, and Niantic lean on it to promote their work without compensating artists.

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