Discover how AI is reshaping game development as Brad Hart, CTO of Perforce Software, explores its role in overcoming talent shortages and driving innovation for captivating gaming experiences in 2024.
Video games are one of America’s favorite pastimes, with 86% of Americans reporting that video games bring people joy and 88% of gamers reporting that games allow them to expand their social circles. But gamers may not realize that developing their next favorite game is at risk, as the video game development industry faces one of the most pressing challenges yet: the continued labor shortage.
New data from the 2023 State of Game Development report found that talent acquisition and retention was cited as the #1 challenge facing game creators today. As game studios continue to face ongoing talent shortages, the creation, development, and production of video games will begin to slow, leaving studios with the unfortunate reality of decreasing revenues and disappointed fan bases. To fully address game development challenges today, studios must explore different avenues to integrate AI into their tech stacks to combat talent shortages and provide consumers with fresh, innovative games.
Leveraging AI to Fill in Existing Talent Gaps
As AI development advances, the technology has been credited with helping boost productivity levels repeatedly. Amid ongoing talent challenges and increased pressure on go-to-market timing, game studios must consider integrating AI into their game development lifecycle to help fill talent gaps and support overwhelmed developers.
While concerns over IP licensing may be reason for pause when implementing generative AI, studios can still leverage the technology in different ways that will avoid any potential risks. One way that studios can implement generative AI into their development lifecycle is in the early stages of storyboarding and prototyping. Developers can leverage generative AI to create well-crafted storyboards in less time. If revisions are needed, they can make those changes quickly by simply prompting a Large Language Model (LLM) rather than going back into the design process to start from scratch.
Development teams can also leverage generative AI to reduce their burdens on repetitive, menial tasks, such as data analysis, documentation, software testing, and other manual processes. Through the technology, developers can reallocate the time spent doing these processes with more complex projects, reducing their workload. With lessened workloads and more time to focus on projects that motivate developers, studios may experience lower attrition rates and better employee satisfaction regarding work-life balance.
See More: The Automation Way to Bridge Talent Gaps and Increase ROI
Increasing Innovation for Content Creation
Gamers crave immersive game content, with technologies like augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) as proof points for this trend. However, with limited talent and resources and relatively slow adoption, developers are moving away from more resource-intensive channels like AR/VR, with 13% of developers working on a VR project in 2023 compared to 28% in 2022. AI tools help build upon this desire, creating immersive experiences for gamers during game development and in-game experience. For example, generative AI can recreate and extend detailed historical worlds or imaginative fantasy environments and model hundreds of thousands of iterations of movements, interactions, and lighting to optimize the end-user experience. In games, AI-based engines can dynamically react to a user’s gameplay and customize the experience specifically for that user, truly making the game unique and personal for them. Additionally, AI can deepen the interactions between players in multiplayer games, cross-platform games, and cross-media technology, drawing the player further into the experience.
Beyond building hyper-realistic environments, developers can leverage generative AI to create better interactions between players and non-player characters (NPCs). Using natural language processing tools to allow NPCs to better interact with players and engage with their environment is another use case to show how technology can build these environments.
See More: 5 Ways Outsourcing Content Creation Can Drive ROI
Approaching AI in Game Development Responsibly
While generative AI promises increased productivity and better innovation, it is not without risk. As mentioned previously, organizations need to be mindful of what data the AI tools they use are trained on and if any of it is intellectual property that could put game studios in tricky legal situations, costing massive amounts of time and money. There are also concerns about bias seeping into training data, and if AI models are being used to create characters and settings, these biases could be reflected in the result. Creating responsible internal guidelines is paramount for studios looking to integrate generative AI into their development lifecycle.
Organizations must ensure that their training data is clear of any proprietary information and is free of any biases that could impact game development. To do so, studios should adhere to an ethical code, whether directed by legislation such as the recent AI executive order or modeled after other organizations’ frameworks. In the interim of additional regulation, industry leaders must work together to set standards for responsible use, communicating their commitment to trust and safety to end users.
Looking Ahead to 2024
The rapid advancement in AI has brought excitement to the game development community, and 2024 is likely to be no different as technology develops studios must stay updated with the latest trends while exercising caution around ethical and legal concerns, especially with generative AI. The role of AI in the development lifecycle will change how developers approach game development forever, requiring a new controller. Are you ready to play?
Image Source: Shutterstock