Another major studio has announced that it will use artificial intelligence in its games in the future, despite the potential impact on the quality of its products and the effects of the technology on real-world employees. It was recently revealed that Blizzard will soon have an AI art creation tool called Blizzard Diffusion that is trained on Blizzard art to mimic Blizzard’s specific style. It comes on the heels of another round of layoffs in the games industry, hitting studios big and small.
People can’t stop praising AI as the future, despite the fact that there are many, many downsides to its use, especially when it comes to creating art. Our website writes about it again and again and again. The point is that true creativity, true innovation, and true brilliance cannot come from artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is trained on existing data sets and cannot create anything it has not been exposed to. Which means, of course, that he can’t really create. It just replicates, transforms, regurgitates.
And yet, studios continue to embrace it, with a few exceptions—the CEO of Take-Two recently said that game development is “the domain of human beings.” But Ubisoft has Ghostwriter AI to write NPC dialogue. Squanch Games used the art of artificial intelligence in High On Life. Developers including Ninja Theory use AI voice actors. And now Blizzard is creating concept art with AI. According to lead designer Allen Adham, Blizzard Diffusion will be used “to help create concept art for game environments, as well as characters and their outfits,” and could also be used to create “autonomous, intelligent NPCs in game” and “procedurally supported level design.”
There’s only so much I can scream into the void about AI before I lose my voice. Companies will continue to do this, no matter how much people warn them of the risks, because it allows them to fire people and keep them. They can reduce their art department to people who know how to type prompts into a box so it can spit out art based on things the company has already done. I get it – games are expensive to make, and they’re getting more expensive for both developers and players. This is staggeringly intolerable and something has to give.
Sure, AI would help cut costs by shedding labor from a notoriously labor-intensive industry, but it would also have its problems. If an AI is trained on the wider internet, like the eponymous Stable Diffusion, it will likely run into copyright issues. If it isn’t, then it won’t be able to create anything new, because there’s only so much Blizzard art that the company can feed its program, and that amount is far less than what other AI generators have access to. People love video games that feel unique, explore human themes, and look beautiful. AI won’t give Blizzard’s games the flair that makes its products successful.
If something has to give, let it not be human creativity. Let’s shorten the games and reduce the unnecessary padding that the studios hate anyway. We get the scope of games right and don’t push developers to meet unrealistic standards set by businessmen. Let’s even cut CEO salaries, because if you’re making millions while firing people, you’re not good at your job anyway. But let’s not start handing over creativity to machines that can’t do it.
Next up: Tears of the Kingdom proves people want weirder games