'Magic: The Gathering' Publisher Denies, Then Admits, Using AI Art In Promo Image

This isn't the first time fans have called out the publisher for using AI generated art.
Wizards of the Coast promotional image.

Wizards of the Coast, the publishers of the popular games Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons, admitted on Monday that it published a marketing image containing some AI generated content—after initially claiming that it didn’t. 

On January 4, the official Magic: The Gathering Twitter account posted a promotional image for the upcoming Murders at Karlov Manor set. It had a steampunk theme and, though the art on the cards was made by human hands, the background was not.


Magic: The Gathering has long featured fantasy illustrations handcrafted by hundreds of artists, and many fans detest the use of generative AI art—sometimes pouring over every image the studio publishes to make sure it was crafted by human hands. It didn’t take long for them to figure out that something was off in the Karlov Manor image. When fans called them out, Wizards initially pushed back. “We understand confusion by fans given the style being different than [the] card art, but we stand by our previous statement,” Wizards said in a now deleted tweet. “This art was created by humans and not AI.” 

But the background art was, in fact, created by AI—a fact that Wizards later admitted. 

“Well, we made a mistake earlier when we said that a marketing image we posted was not created using AI,” the company said on Twitter. “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. While the art came from a vendor, it’s on us to make sure that we are living up to our promise to support the amazing human ingenuity that makes Magic great. 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.”

This isn’t the first controversy related to AI art in Magic cards and it won’t be the last. In November, the company advertised a collectible set of cards featuring Lara Croft. Like this most recent set, fans noticed the background image appeared to be AI generated

In August 2023, a Dungeons and Dragons sourcebook hit the publisher’s digital marketplace containing an AI generated image. “We have worked with the artist since 2014 and he’s put years of work into books we all love,” Wizards said in a statement at the time. “While we weren’t aware of the artist’s choice to use AI in the creation process for these commissioned pieces, we have discussed with him, and he will not use AI for Wizards’ work moving forward.”

Wizards also said it was updating its policies to make it clear to the artists they work with that AI wasn’t to be used in the creation process. In December, Wizards officially announced a ban on the use of AI images in Magic: The Gathering cards.