Niantic gave fans a first look at Pokémon Go’s next season of content today and while Pokémon from Scarlet and Violet appearing in the game has players hyped up, it did little to slow the torrent of backlash that came after gamers spotted certain promotional material that appeared to be using AI-generated artwork.
Once the main Pokémon Go website updated with information about the Adventures Abound season, which begins on Sept. 1, players began dissecting each section to see if any additional details about upcoming events were snuck in.
Instead, the big banner image behind the season’s logo and Paldean Starters drew eyes for some visual oddities.
Upon closer inspection, the background image has a very inconsistent lineart that warps around and comes to abrupt ends—occasionally rendering something like a wall or what we assume is a car in a very strange way.
Many fans, including Pokémon archivist Lewtwo, also pointed out the entire thing is extremely blurry, likely as a way to distract from or hide more of those areas.
While there is no confirmation this is actually an AI background, fans of the game are disappointed in Niantic for potentially utilizing a cheap and lifeless alternative when Pokémon Go has been a bastion of creativity in both art and video in the past.
Related: Pokémon Go devs justify skipping Galar for relevancy with Paldea additions
Whether it be beautiful art spreads with dozens of Pokémon or videos treating various creatures as if they really existed, previous announcements like this had a positive track record.
It is made even worse when artists like Yusuke Kozaki and Taiga Kasai actively work with Niantic and other games like Pokémon Masters EX even bring in community artists for work, at times.
With how active Niantic is in other areas of tech, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the company embrace AI as it becomes more prominent and use it to cut costs on things like background art for websites or promotions. It also isn’t that far off from some recent promo art where 3D models for Pokémon are superimposed on real photos with additional assets edited in—something that can also look very cheaply done at times.
For now, a single AI background image isn’t harmful, but the real concern here surrounds Niantic potentially bleeding AI usage into other areas that then become more noticeable for players or take away from the charm that makes Pokémon Go so special.
Dot Esports has reached out to Niantic for comment on the claimed usage of AI imagery.
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