Pokémon Go is still going strong, with the mobile augmented reality game enjoying sustained popularity since launching in 2016. Publisher Niantic regularly reveals new seasons of the game, with new creatures to collect. But the latest is proving controversial for an unexpected reason.
The company has announced Adventures Abound, the twelfth season of the game, which will run from now until 1st December. The season features 20 new Pokémon from the Paldea region featured in the Scarlet and Violet games on Nintendo Switch. And it also, some fans suspect, features some AI-generated artwork. (For more bizarre examples, check out some of the weirdest AI art we've seen.)
The lead image on the Pokémon Go website features a vapourware-esque cityscape rendered in purples and pinks. But with a strange lack of Pokémon-related detail, and blurry, in-cohesive line art, plenty of fans are accusing Niantic of using AI to generate the image.
"Bruh there is no way this isn't AI art," one user tweets, while another adds, "What a disappointment. They’ve given up their integrity when the game is literally at its best." For the uninitiated, AI art has proven a controversial topic since text-to-image generators began to emerge last year, with issues over ethics and copyright plaguing the text. Even Adobe has been accused by artists of copyright infringement related to its own AI offering, Firefly.
did Niantic use AI generated art for the new Pokemon GO season rofl https://t.co/HUiPMdGcXL pic.twitter.com/M38n49SvBTAugust 30, 2023
Just when you thought Niantic couldn't get any lower, they're so obsessed with maximising profit nowadays that they'll resort to using ai art generators to cut costs.I'm glad I stopped playing anymore. https://t.co/qp5P1zN7IYAugust 31, 2023
Even if you’re a regular person unaware of what ai art is, this looks so strange and jarring What a lack of quality control and so disappointing https://t.co/6nJjVU73NV pic.twitter.com/0a9yM8CPqSAugust 31, 2023
“Niantic uses a variety of tools and software to create visual assets," the company responded to Kotaku's request for comment. "We don’t disclose specifics around our processes." The response is notable for containing neither an apology nor a denial – while other brands have claimed their use of AI use to be a mistake, there's no such suggestion here.
Indeed, it seems suspiciously AI-looking artwork is making its way into the mainstream. Just last week, fans accused Amazon's artwork for its upcoming Fallout series of appearing to be AI-generated.