The Video Game Industry is on the Verge of an AI Revolution

Isabelle Lee
March 16, 2023
  • The impact of generative AI on video game development will revolutionize the industry. 
  • Generative AI tools will make game development easier than ever and more cost-effective by handling some of the most time-consuming parts of development.
  • AI can help generate scenery, avatars, Non-Player-Characters, music, dialog, and even new gaming environments.

While generative AI products will surely transform every industry, they will have the biggest impact on the video gaming industry. Video games take an incredible amount of time to create. Likewise, generating entire online worlds takes an immense amount of work. One of the most successful video games of all time, Red Dead Redemption 2, cost $500 million and took almost eight years to build. Designers built over 1,000 non-playable characters (NPCs), a 30-square-mile world, more than 100 missions, and 60 hours of music. Each NPC was designed with a unique personality and appearance and voiced by a voice actor. Over 100 musicians wrote and performed the music in the game’s world. As players explore the virtual world, the level of detail and artistry generated by the human game designers is astounding. 

Another incredibly detailed and enormous game is Microsoft Flight Simulator. In the game, players can fly over all 197 million square miles of planet Earth. Microsoft took a different approach to create the game. They partnered with to train an AI to create a 3D version of the earth from 2D satellite images. Creating a virtual version of every square inch of the earth’s surface would be impossible without AI’s help. The collaboration pioneered a new era of collaboration between AI and game designers to generate virtual worlds more easily than ever before. But, generative AI tools can create more than scenery; they can help developers create 3D models, character animations and avatars, and even dialog and music.  

In addition to using AI to generate scenery and the setting of games, it can also improve the players’ experience by creating dynamic, challenging opponents capable of learning the player’s fighting style or from their behaviors. Gamers are likely familiar with competing against AI, but PlayStation is upping the stakes by adding an AI-driven corvette into the game Gran Turismo. Players of the game can race against the corvette, driven by the AI agent built by Sony named GT Sophy. The mysterious player is a Non-Player-Character who adapts to and learns from the human players to become a better competitor. According to the game makers, this AI will “put up a fight” instead of just trailing behind or executing safe moves. The addition of GT Sophy is emblematic of a new era of AI incorporation which aims to provide AI products that interact with humans, not to replace or beat them at a task. GT Sophy is designed to perform an open-ended task, race against its competitor, and interact with human players. 

GT Sophy uses AI to learn and adapt to the player's driving style and constantly change as they continue to battle the AI-driven Porsche. The AI agent constantly generates new experiences for players. Generative AI tools will allow game developers to generate new gaming content for years, extending the life of a game and making every session unique for gamers. The ability to generate content procedurally will allow developers to create ever-expanding games. No Man’s Sky uses generative AI to expand its galaxy of trillions of planets, each with unique ecosystems, terrain, and weather. The team behind the game built an AI program capable of generating a universe by itself. When the game was released, its universe contained 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 unique planets. The game is built for exploration, and it is impossible for any one player, or even all of the game’s players, to explore every possible planet. More games will likely adopt this approach to generating new worlds or settings for players to explore. 

The final way that generative AI will revolutionize the gaming industry is by allowing users to input language prompts to create on platforms like Roblox or Minecraft. Roblox is experimenting with building the ability for platform users to enter language-based prompts to generate 3D objects without using code. Those 3D objects can also be assigned behavior during generation. The example the CTO of Roblox gave is the input of “A red, two-seater, convertible sports car with front-wheel drive.” The result of that prompt would be a 3D version of a red, two-seater convertible sports car that can drive in any terrain in the Roblox world. Roblox is integrating generative AI because the company wants to build a platform where everyone can be a creator, regardless of their code knowledge. The first two tests released by Roblox developers are generative AI materials from a text prompt and generative AI code completion to help increase the speed and amount of development on the platform. 

Generative AI will increase the speed of game development and allow game developers to provide gamers with infinite, personalized gaming experiences. It will also reduce the cost associated with developing games but developers will need to have knowledge of AI and be able to use AI tools effectively. Programmers and artists are not being replaced. Instead, they are being given tools to “auto-complete” the creative process by handing off the most time-consuming parts of the technical execution of concepts or ideas to an AI. Experts caution that generative AI is still in its infancy, and there are potential legal barriers to the widespread adoption of generative AI tools in game development, however, it is already revolutionizing the gaming industry and will greatly impact the games you know and love for years to come.

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