Artificial intelligence (AI), one of the most discussed topics in technology, is set to play a major role in the development of video games and is threatening to turn the way the entire industry operates upside down. 

Although many do not realise, AI is already an integral part of video game creation and has been for decades.

From the early 90s and 2000s, players had gotten used to interacting with AI-powered non-playable characters in a variety of ways.

Left 4 Dead 2, which released in 2008, used machine learning algorithms to learn the gamer’s behaviour and adjust difficulty levels and other factors, making a unique experience for every player.

By the 2010s, players were used to experiencing real-time procedurally generated worlds like Minecraft

In modern gaming, thousands of players are exploring No Man’s Sky, which uses advanced generative AI (GenAI) to create a galaxy filled with trillions of procedurally generated unique planets; each with their own terrain, weather and ecosystems.

How well do you really know your competitors?

Access the most comprehensive Company Profiles on the market, powered by GlobalData. Save hours of research. Gain competitive edge.

Company Profile – free sample

Thank you!

Your download email will arrive shortly

Not ready to buy yet? Download a free sample

We are confident about the unique quality of our Company Profiles. However, we want you to make the most beneficial decision for your business, so we offer a free sample that you can download by submitting the below form

By GlobalData

ROBLOX, one of the most played games in the world, is also using GenAI to boost player experience. Players are able to build virtual items like buildings and avatars by by typing their requirements in natural language rather than complex code. 

AI can enhance gaming interactions

Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick, the parent company of Grand Theft Auto maker Rockstar, recently discussed how he felt GenAI would enhance interactions with non-playable characters.

During an interview with Inverse, Zelnick said: “Everyone’s working on that. You’re a playable character, you’re interacting with the non-playable character.

“That interaction is currently scripted. And the non-playable characters are generally not very interesting. You could imagine all the NPCs becoming really interesting and fun.”

The report from Inverse suggested that the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto 6 may incorporate significant GenAI to achieve realistic interactions.

Today, with the growing maturity of GenAI tools, the imaginations of video game players and developers have been captured by the possibilities AI and GenAI could bring.

Rupuntar Guha, thematic research project manager at GlobalData, says that video game companies need to evolve with the advances in AI. 

GenAI tools have the potential to help video game studios overcome the key economic challenge of development; the speed in which a game is made, Guha tells Verdict.

“GenAI will accelerate the creation of game prototypes, reduce testing time, and aid enhancement on the fly,” Guha says.

“Consequently, the number of studios is likely to record a boom, with fewer developers and more AI tools, which, in turn, will push the volume of games released per year,” he added.

The gaming industry will be worth $470bn in less than a decade, increasing by more than double from its 2021 $197bn valuation, according to GlobalData’s Thematic Research: Video Game 2022 report.

There is a possibility this could increase as AI matures and allows for a smoother workflow.

The dark side of AI on the video game industry

However, the rise of AI and GenAI may also be hurting the video game industry; potentially leading to future copyright concerns and putting the jobs of game developers at risk. 

The video game industry, like the rest of the tech industry, has suffered waves of employee cuts and reshuffles throughout 2023.

Major companies including Microsoft, CD Projekt RED and Epic Games are among those that have made large staff cuts over the past year. According to videogamelayoffs.com, there have been around 7,800 video game workers let go in 2023, so far.

Despite AI not being touted as the specific reason, it is clear that the video game industry has challenges ahead. It is also clear that AI is here to stay. 

Guha claims that video game developers will need GenAI skills to land jobs, due to the significantly growing role it will play in the creation of the medium. 

Gaming industry advocates must establish best practices to ensure developers are not undermined or replaced by AI systems,” Guha warns.

Copyright in video games is also a problem likely to arise with the rise of GenAI tools throughout the industry.

GenAI models such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT have come under fire this year for training its systems with other artist’s work.

This could potentially happen in the game development, as incorporated GenAI tools may could use developers’ work without permission to create content.

Also, who owns the assets created on AI tools incorporated in video games could get confusing with a globally distributed title.

For example, laws in the UK and US state that only humans can claim copyright ownership.

This could get complicated when taking into consideration the GenAI-powered generating tools used in something like Roblox. Does the creator of the AI take ownership, or the gamer making the prompts?

“GenAI is still in its infancy, currently enjoying hype, and has yet truly to prove its value in the gaming industry beyond a number of examples,” Guha says.

“It must deliver some not-seen-before benefits to game developers and gamers to attract adoption in the future.”