Look, we've talked before (mainly on the Always Online podcast) about the possible future for AI when it comes to game development. There's certainly potential benefits to be found in the theorized time savings these tools can provide when it comes to development.
The general concerns, as also seen in the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, tend to be the desire for companies to use the technology to potentially replace creatives in a number of ways.
In an interview with Bloomberg on the back of strong Q2 financials, video below, NEXON's CEO Owen Mahoney was asked about the future of AI in games development. What he said probably isn't going to surprise any of us. Generically, Mahoney hyped up the development speed AI adds to a lengthy (and expensive) game production timeline.
Using AI to teach characters to walk, like NEXON is doing in their upcoming F2P, PvPvE extraction shooter ARC Raiders, allows developers to save a ton of time programming walking for each character. In ARC Raiders, all the bots are trained via AI.
Mahoney calls the advent of AI in games development a "Bonanza".
So far so good? Fine. Here's the rub: although Mahoney doesn't expressly SAY that AI is can be used to replace actual people, he does provide examples of how AI can be used to skip expensive motion capture and can also generate speech in any accent they want quickly, allowing the dev team to skip voice acting capture. Obviously these are both jobs normally done by actual humans that would no longer be "hired".
Mahoney also speaks to the headcount of actual teams saying that teams of sometimes 1000 employees on a AAA title can be downsized to about 150 employees. While Mahoney points out that this puts developers and creative much closer to their actual project, he also calls out that with smaller teams there are fewer "HR problems" and less cumbersome management.
While Mahoney sells these advances as allowing faster iteration on ideas and ultimately better games because of it, in practice this has yet to actually be seen.
Mahoney also spoke about NEXON's China plans, mainly focusing around Dungeon and Fighter, and the thesis of his presentation earlier this week which was that investors should pay attention to the "nerds" and not the "taste makers". Esports, metaverses, VR... while taste makers may have pumped these things up over recent years, the "nerds" invested elsewhere, in the customer/gamer experience, and they were right in Mahoney's (and NEXON's) eyes.
AI is different, though.
About the Author
Mike “Magicman” Byrne has been a part of the MMOBomb family for years and serves as the site’s current Editor-in-Chief. His love for MMOs and gaming in general has led him to covering games for numerous gaming websites including Gamebreaker TV and XIV Nation where he proudly displays his fanboy flag for FFXIV:ARR.
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