Home Board Game News Stronghold Games Openly Embraces AI Art For Their Latest Kickstarter

Stronghold Games Openly Embraces AI Art For Their Latest Kickstarter


The use of AI art in board games has been a hot topic lately, and for good reason. Its use in commercial work is in both a morally and legally grey area (to be generous). Recently, Kickstarter announced that they weren’t banning products using AI art on their platform, but are requiring creators to disclose when they are being used.

Board game publisher Stronghold Games recently launched their latest crowdfunding campaign for their mega-popular Terraforming Mars line of games. Terraforming Mars is currently sitting at #6 on BGGs all-time rankings and has successfully funded 5 Kickstarters for millions of dollars to 10s of thousands of backers. So to say it’s been a commercial success would be an understatement.

Terraforming MarsWhile the are a lot of fans of its gameplay, its artwork and components have never been the game’s strongpoint. In the past, Terraforming Mars has used mainly stock imagery for its artwork. With this newest expansion, Stronghold Games appears to have made the jump to AI art. Here is the disclosures from their Kickstarter page:

“I plan to use AI-generated content in my project. What parts of your project will use AI generated content? Please be as specific as possible.
We have and will continue to leverage AI-generated content in the development and delivery of this project. We have used MidJourney, Fotor, and the Adobe Suite of products as tools in conjunction with our internal and external illustrators, graphic designers, and marketers to generate ideas, concepts, illustrations, graphic design elements, and marketing materials across all the elements of this game. AI and other automation tools are integrated into our company, and while all the components of this game have a mix of human and AI-generated content nothing is solely generated by AI. We also work with a number of partners to produce and deliver the rewards for this project. Those partners may also use AI-generated content in their production and delivery process, as well as in their messaging, marketing, financial management, human resources, systems development, and other internal and external business processes.

Do you have the consent of owners of the works that were (or will be) used to produce the AI generated portion of your projects? Please explain.
The intent of our use of AI is not to replicate in any way the works of an individual creator, and none of our works do so. We were not involved in the development of any of the AI tools used in this project, we have ourselves neither provided works nor asked for consent for any works used to produce AI-generated content. Please reference each of the AI tools we’ve mentioned for further details on their business practices.”

This bit of double-speak doesn’t quite spell out what exactly is 100% AI art, or what was used as a base. It does say that there is a “mix of human and AI-generated content”, but no one is quite sure what that mix could be. It could be an AI-generated image brought into Photoshop and given a slight levels adjustment. Boom, mixed-use. Regardless, this is one of the first major publishers to openly use AI art in their game.

Comments from the community have not been positive.

I generally avoid editorializing in news posts, but as someone who is part of the creative industry, this is deeply disturbing. Seeing a major publisher openly use AI art is just wrong. Terraforming Mars has made millions and millions of dollars. Art is expensive, good art even more so. But this is not an indie publisher just trying to make it or test the waters. This is a product Stronghold Games knows will sell. Do better.


  1. “Seeing a major publisher openly use AI art is just wrong.’ You might think it is self evident, but it is not. Why is it a problem that they are using AI art?
    I don’t think “they took our jerbs” is a good enough reason.
    Why don’t you include comments from one of the main artists working on this project? He responded in the main thread about it on Bgg.

    • Opposition to AI art isn’t about “they took our jerbs”. It’s about the fact that they stole people’s work, without permission or compensation, and used it to train their AI to replicate their work.
      They could have trained their AI using tons of freely available public domain or classical art work. But they didn’t.
      I suggest educating yourself on the numerous problems with AI art.

  2. I like how Leder himselfs kind of shows why this is going to become more common. People really are driven by the visual appeal of the games and if you do not have budget for commisioning piece for every single card using something like clip art or photo is not enough.

    • That is it in a nutshell. Whilst yes there will be vocal protest against the use of AI art, I think by evidenced by how successful the KS is thus far, that protest is a minority. I think the majority of people are more interested in “does the art look good” rather than who/what made the good looking art in the first place.

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