"It's insane that they'll damage their brands to save a few bucks."
In a change of heart, "Magic: The Gathering" and "Dungeons & Dragons" publisher Wizards of the Coast has admitted to using generative AI in a recent promo image — after initially claiming AI wasn't used.
Last week, users on social media noticed some strange incongruities in the image, a steampunk scene showcasing some of the company's new "Magic" cards.
After users pointed out wonky dials, wires that didn't line up, and lightbulbs that appeared to have far too many filaments, the company initially denied that it or its contractor had used any AI tools.
"This art was created by humans and not AI," Wizards of the Coast wrote in a since-deleted tweet.
The claim didn't sit well with keen onlookers, who kept pressing the company on the telltale details.
"Either you are lying to us or your artist is lying to you," tabletop game creator Tom Cartos tweeted. "This is blatantly AI, it took me less than a minute to find multiple examples of clear AI generation."
Now, in an apparent attempt to save face in light of a massive wave of users flooding the company's social media accounts, the official "Magic" X account issued a new statement.
"Well, we made a mistake earlier when we said that a marketing image we posted was not created using AI," it reads. "As you, our diligent community pointed out, it looks like some AI components that are now popping up in industry standard tools like Photoshop crept into our marketing creative, even if a human did the work to create the overall image."
The controversy highlights a raging debate surrounding the use of generative AI tools in creative fields, a practice that many artists now worry may undermine their livelihoods.
It's an especially egregious example, given Wizards of the Coast's close relationship with illustrators and animators. Their well-loved products make use of extensive illustrations and other creative works.
Worse yet, the company had promised last year to introduce strict rules regarding the use of such tools after a veteran D&D artist admitted to using AI to enhance images for a book.
The company had already landed in hot water early last year for severely restricting how D&D-inspired game creators could adapt the game's base rules in an apparent attempt to cash in.
At the time, Wizards of the Coast reneged on its new rules following a massive outcry from fans and left its old rules in place instead.
Now, the latest offense seems unlikely to sit well with the company's community.
"We already made clear that we require artists, writers, and creatives contributing to the Magic TCG to refrain from using AI generative tools to create final Magic products," the company wrote in its latest statement.
Wizards isn't the only company to get caught using generative AI. Digital pen tablet maker Wacom was also recently accused of using AI to generate an image of an illustrated dragon whose body parts didn't line up.
In short, creatives' jobs are on the line, and the public is on the lookout.
"Jobs are going in real time, makes me nauseous," film concept artist and illustrator Reid Southen tweeted in response to the news.
"It's insane that they'll damage their brands to save a few bucks," he added in a follow-up.
More on generative AI: Image Database Powering Google's AI Contains Explicit Images of Children
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