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### “Magic: The Gathering” Publication Initially Refutes, Then Confirms AI Art Presence in Promo Image

This isn’t the first time fans have called out the publisher for using AI generated art.

After initially denying it, Wizards of the Coast, the company behind the popular games Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, admitted on Monday that they had inadvertently included AI-generated content in a promotional image.

The teaser image for the upcoming Deaths at Karlov Manor set was shared on January 4 via the official Magic: The Gathering Twitter account. While the card artwork itself was handcrafted, the background featured a steampunk design.

Some fans have strong objections to the use of AI-generated art, meticulously scrutinizing each image released by the studio to ensure its human origins. Magic: The Gathering has a longstanding tradition of showcasing narrative illustrations painstakingly crafted by numerous artists. The issue came to light when discrepancies in the Karlov Manor image were pointed out by vigilant followers. Initially, Wizards responded defensively, stating in a now-deleted tweet, “We understand fans’ confusion regarding the stylistic deviation from card art, but we affirm that this piece was the result of human creativity, not artificial intelligence.”

However, it was later revealed that the background art was indeed generated by AI, a fact that Wizards eventually acknowledged.

“We made a mistake in asserting that the promotional graphic we shared was AI-free,” the company confessed on Twitter. Despite the human involvement in creating the overall image, traces of AI elements, now prevalent in industry-standard tools like Photoshop, inadvertently found their way into our marketing materials, as astutely noted by our community. While the artwork was outsourced, Wizards emphasized their commitment to supporting the exceptional human ingenuity that defines their brand of magic. They iterated their stance that artists, writers, and creatives involved in Magic TCG must abstain from using AI-assisted tools to create future products.

This incident is not the first nor likely the last controversy surrounding AI art in Magic cards. In a previous instance in November, a card set featuring Lara Croft raised similar concerns among fans due to the AI-generated background.

In a separate event, an AI-generated image was included in a Dungeons and Dragons encyclopedia released on the author’s online platform in August 2023. Wizards clarified in a statement, “We have collaborated with the artist since 2014, and he has contributed significantly to the beloved textbooks.” Following discussions with the artist, they confirmed that AI would no longer be utilized in their collaborative projects, despite the artist’s independent use of it in the past. Wizards also announced updated guidelines to ensure clarity with their collaborators regarding the prohibition of AI in the creative process. A formal ban on AI-generated images in Magic: The Gathering content was declared by Wizards in December.

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Last modified: January 11, 2024
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