Pokemon Go is still going strong, with the mobile augmented reality game enjoying continued popularity since its launch in 2016. Publisher Niantic regularly reveals new seasons of the game, new creatures to collect. But the latest is proving controversial for an unexpected reason.
The company has announced the twelfth season of the game Adventures Abound, which will run from now until December 1. This season the Scarlet and Violet game on Nintendo Switch features 20 new Pokémon from the Paladia region. And as some fans suspect, it contains some AI-generated artwork. (For more weird examples, check out some of the weirdest AI art we’ve seen.)
The lead image on the Pokémon Go website features a Vaporware-esque cityscape rendered in purple and pink. But with a strange lack of Pokemon-related detail and blurry, monotonous line art, plenty of fans are accusing Niantic of using AI to create the image.
One user tweets, “Bruh there’s no such thing as AI art,” while another adds, “What a disappointment. They’ve given up their integrity when the game is literally the best.” For the uninitiated, AI art has become a controversial topic since text-to-image generators began to emerge last year, with text being plagued with issues of ethics and copyright. 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/M38n49SvBT30 August 2023
Just when you thought Niantic couldn’t get any lower, they’re so obsessed with maximizing profits these days that they’ll use an AI art generator to cut costs. I’m glad I stopped playing now. https://t.co/qp5P1zN7IY31 August 2023
Even if you are clueless about what AI art is, it looks so weird and disturbing Lack of quality control and how frustrating https://t.co/6nJjVU73NV pic.twitter.com/0a9yM8CPqS31 August 2023
“Niantic uses a variety of tools and software to create visual assets,” the company said in response to Kotaku’s request for comment. “We do not disclose detailed information about our process.” This response is notable for its lack of either apology or denial – while other brands have claimed their use of AI is wrong, there’s no such suggestion here.
Indeed, it seems that suspiciously AI-looking artwork is entering the mainstream. Just last week, fans accused Amazon’s artwork of being AI-generated for its upcoming Fallout series.