Awaken Realms pulls AI art from deluxe Puerto Rico crowdfunding campaign after Ravensburger steps in

Awaken Realms has taken down AI-generated promotional images for its newly-announced Puerto Rico 1897 Special Edition crowdfunding campaign after being contacted by the game’s licensor Ravensburger.

The Gamefound campaign for the deluxe edition of classic economic strategy game Puerto Rico, which was revealed by Awaken Realms on Wednesday, quickly came under fire after promotional images appeared to show tell-tale signs of having used AI to create the artwork.

Awaken Realms has now pulled those images, replacing them with a blurred version of the box cover from the 2022 release of Puerto Rico 1897 superimposed with a plastic sculpt of a ship.

All of the remaining imagery in the campaign is photography of Awaken Realms’ previous deluxe component edition of a Ravensburger game, Castles of Burgundy, which raised almost €3m from more than 22,800 backers. Ravensburger is a significant investor in Gamefound, having signed a $4.5m deal in early 2022.

The AI-generated images are still present on a Gamefound blog post announcing Awaken Realms’ slew of 2024 projects.

A Ravensburger spokesperson told BoardGameWire, “Awaken Realms has the license to develop and publish Puerto Rico 1897 Special Edition. 

“As the licensor, Ravensburger reached out to Awaken Realms, who has already removed the temporary images that were being used to promote their project’s crowdfunding campaign.

“Ravensburger also reinforced with Awaken Realms that Generative AI cannot be used in any part of the art process for this Ravensburger game.”

Awaken Realms CEO Marcin Świerkot told BoardGameWire yesterday that “there will be no AI art” in the final edition of the new Puerto Rico, but did not respond to questions about its decision to use AI art for the campaign’s promotional imagery.

The removes images were immediately pegged by some board gamers as having used AI artwork, citing characteristic tells such as humans being depicted with too many fingers, strange geometries and details within the image bleeding into each other.

Dice Tower previewer Ella Ampongan took to Twitter to highlight issues in the promo artwork, while several commenters on the Gamefound campaign page have also questioned the use of AI art in creating the imagery.

The use of AI art in board games was thrust into the spotlight last September when it emerged FryxGames and Stronghold Games had used the technology in the development of the latest Terraforming Mars Kickstarter campaign, which raised more than $2.2m from over 19,000 backers.

A host of board game publishers, artists and players took to social media and BoardGameGeek forums to condemn that decision, although the online backlash made little dent on the campaign’s runaway success.

Much of the ire stemmed from the way generative AI creates its images, with the most successful software relying on being fed huge quantities of publicly-available artwork – usually without the consent of the artists, or with any attempt to compensate them for using their work.

A month later Essen Spiel, the world’s biggest board game fair, came under fire after admitted using controversial AI-generated art on its tickets, posters and app for its 2023 event.

5 Comments

    • Updated! Thanks so much Jake – it’s so easy to still accidentally use ‘Kickstarter’ as shorthand for crowdfunding – different times! Really appreciate you pointing out the error 🙂

  1. Guys chill out. He’s the guy who killed Inigo Montoya’s father. He’s preparing to die.

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