Embracer adopts a “human-centric” AI policy and talks vaguely about how it will “significantly improve game development”

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Struggling video game conglomerate Embracer Group appears to be supporting the rise of artificial intelligence: in its latest release annual reportthe company outlined its strategy for incorporating artificial intelligence into its future work, stating that the technology “can significantly improve game development by increasing resource efficiency” and “adding intelligent behaviors, personalization and optimization to gameplay.”

The utilize of generative artificial intelligence in game development is a sensitive topic, to say the least. Generally speaking, many innovative types don’t care about this, to put it mildly, but dear managers really do; some argue that it will inevitably put people out of work (after all, you don’t have to pay a machine to spit out a photo), while others (again, steep managers) insist, to borrow a phrase, not habit.

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Regardless of where this particular division comes from, attempts to incorporate it into game development have been met with bulky criticism: Blizzard recently went so far as to assure players that it is not using generative AI in World of Warcraft. However, this does not discourage Embracer, which claims that the rapid development of gigantic language models (LLM) has led to the creation of artificial intelligence capable of much greater things than in the past, “such as detecting complex patterns, contributing advanced coding and, perhaps most in particular, ensuring increasingly human interactions.”

Increased capabilities aren’t the only driving force behind Embracer’s increasing use of AI: everyone else is doing it too, and Embracer doesn’t want to miss this boat.

“Certainly one of the main risks for the company is not using AI, because it would put us at a competitive disadvantage compared to other players in the industry,” said Tomas Hedman, head of privacy and AI management at Embracer. “Most companies will continue to integrate AI in various ways. For us, the most important thing is how we do it.”

“We don’t want to replace humans with artificial intelligence, we want to empower them,” Hedman said, explaining the Embracer “way.” “This is at the heart of our human-centric approach to realizing the potential of artificial intelligence.

“Not only does AI enable our developers to do even more and become more efficient at certain tasks, but it will also enable a wider range of developers to code. Entering the industry may be easier for people with disabilities who, for example, cannot use a keyboard as easily as others.”

Improving accessibility is absolutely a desirable outcome, but the real focus seems to be elsewhere: Hedman said that as AI models improve, “we can leverage their capabilities in the innovative process as well” in tasks such as “identifying inconsistencies in scripts and storytelling story” and helping innovative teams “write scripts, create image, generate ideas, QA and more” – I can’t facilitate but notice that these are jobs that are already being done by people: writers, editors, artists, testers and so on next.

Hedman believes that the impact of artificial intelligence will not only be felt behind the scenes, but will also be perceptible to players. “As models become more human, the interaction between players and AI-powered features will become much more energetic. If you haggle in a game scenario, the AI ​​will remember it next time. This will make the whole game much more intriguing and lively.”

OK, but counterpoint:

(Image: Telltale Interactive)

Whether we like it or not, the use of generative AI is already growing rapidly: a recent GDC study found that 31% of game developers are already using it, and this genie is not going back into the bottle. However, I think there are limits to what can be done with it, and they fall well short of some of the star promises made: neither Nvidia’s AI demo nor Ubisoft’s amazing NEO NPCs convinced me that AI-powered NPCs would provide better, more engaging interactions than well-written characters.

An entirely separate question is whether a “human-centric approach” to AI will actually withstand the pressure when the numbers in quarterly financial reports don’t grow as brisk as humans would expect. Embracer also stated in its report that it had lost the jobs of 1,583 people over the past year as a result of a failed $2 billion investment deal in 2023. These layoffs also involved the closure of a number of studios, including Campfire Cabal, Volition, Free Radical Design and most recently Pieces Interactive.

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