There is always a new technology trend presented as the future. In 2021, it was NFT. Last year was the metaverse. And now it’s AI. Some of the biggest game companies are already excited about the prospect of computer-generated graphics and scripts fattening their bottom line. This week, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson said the game would be one of “biggest beneficiaries» AI, and my city learned that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick recently told staff that he believes AI will be as transformative for the company as the original Macintosh and could even be integrated in a future Guitar Hero.
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The 30+ year veteran of the Call of Duty editor was asked at a company-wide meeting last week about the role he thought AI would play at Activision Blizzard and the broader video game realm in the future. It’s a question a lot of people are asking as AI-generated stories become a flashpoint. in the Hollywood screenwriters’ strike and Google unveils new AI tools that could completely rethink how people browse the internet.
“I’ve known Sam Weltman and the people who work at OpenAI for a long time,” Kotick told staff, based on a recording of remarks shared with my city. “I don’t know how much people realize that a lot of modern AIs, including ChatGPT, started with the idea of beating a game, be it Warcraft Or dota Or Starcraft Or Go Or Chess. But what about now these AI technologies of great language learning models, it all started from this idea of beating a game.”
And I think one of the things that I’ve been through over the last year is that same feeling that I had when I saw that first MacIntosh, about the significant impact of AI on society, both positive and negative. But for what we do, I think it will have a profound positive impact on the things we can do in game development for our players. It will allow us to do things that we have not been able to do for a long time.
You know if you take an example of something like Guitar Hero, I always had this vision of what a new Guitar Hero the product could be but without having the AI and then the processors built into phones, computers or game consoles that allow you to have the processing speed to enable that AI we’ve never been in a place where AI is going to have a practical reality and applicability for games so far. And I think when you look at the next five or seven years, the impact on game creation is going to be tremendous.
It’s unclear exactly what Kotick dreamed up in regards to use AI to reboot Guitar Hero. The beat-based franchise was a hit for years until it eventually imploded under the weight of fast-paced release schedules and too many peripherals. Maybe a new Guitar Hero would let players generate their own songs based on styles and vocals from popular artists, or let them jam alongside iconic musicians on the fly. It could be intriguing and a licensing nightmare.
Kotick added that he thinks AI tools will help make games more accessible and improve how players learn about them. “If you look at games like Call of Duty we have people playing a fraction of what they can play because there’s a lot out there and it’s complex to learn,” Kotick said.
But as executives tout promises of AI advancements, gamers and developers worry about the impact on creativity, ownership and privacy. A little controversy broke last week among Blizzard fans when a new patent citing machine learning image generation was interpreted as the studio behind Diablo And World of Warcraft want to use AI to make art. Hearthstone design lead Brenden Sewell and Blizzard president Mike Ybarra have pointed out that this is not the case.
“Blizzard will always strive to maintain Blizzard quality,” Ybarra tweeted May 5. “You try to combine recent advances in AI (generative AI) with something completely independent. Our approach at Blizzard is to use machine learning and AI in an additive, empathetic way and empower our talented teams to spend more time on the highest quality thinking and creative tasks.
As IGN reported, concerns about companies leveraging AI tools against workers were also a theme in EA’s recent earnings call. “Fear of labor displacement is something we read a lot about and talk about a lot,” Wilson said. “And as we think of every revolution over time, from the agricultural revolution to the industrial revolution and beyond, there was a short-term displacement of labor and then a significant increase in opportunity longer term workforce.
Kotick tried to offer a more optimistic outlook to Activision developers. “With all the talented people we have and with the resources and the franchises, I don’t think there’s been a time in my 30s where there’s been more opportunity for the company than I thought. see today,” he told them. While the CEO might not be around to see that opportunity if a $69 billion deal to sell to Microsoft, which was recently blocked by UK regulatorseventually pass.
Kotick should leave if the acquisition is still complete, and as Axios reports, could see another $185 million when that happens. In that case, someone else should figure out how to use AI to resurrect Guitar Hero.
Lawivision Blizzard did not respond to a request for comment.