Various AI technologies are being highlighted on social media and even in the mainstream press as AI becomes increasingly popular. Video games appear to be among the many facets of modern life that Artificial Intelligence will affect.
How AI Could Democratize Video Games
The democratisation process has already been on for a very long time. The tools needed to create games have became easier to obtain since the late 2000s; the introduction of programmes like Unreal Engine 4, Game Maker, and Unity made it feasible for nearly anybody to create a video game. Then, with the introduction of Steam Greenlight and its successor, Steam Direct, anybody could instantly use the biggest digital distribution channel available for a somewhat inexpensive one-time cost.
The exponential increase in the number of games launched on the Steam platform is a clear indicator of the democratisation of video games. According to Steam DB, the number of games released on Steam annually has climbed from 301 up to 12784 in 2022 since the introduction of Greenlight in 2012. That is a growth of more than 4200% in ten years, which is far larger than the roughly 300% increase in income for the games sector that Statistica attributes to that same period.
Because there is now such a hugely increased range of experiences accessible, it might be argued that the amount of games being published is increasing for the better. More individuals than ever are creating games, offering experiences and points of view that we would not have had the opportunity to witness if the games business had remained as it was in the 1990s and early 2000s. It is not a very big logical step to conclude that AI would merely amplify this effect.
AI-Assistants to Make Games With
AI helpers are presently the "in" thing, as long as you were fortunate enough to catch what was happening at Google I/O 2023. AI is proving to be helpful for everyone, from authors and artists to programmers and designers, thanks to services like Bard and ChatGTP. In-software assistants that can aid creators with tasks they are unfamiliar with are most likely to represent the future of AI in game creation.
Imagine a skilled programmer using a built-in AI assistant to aid them with their artistic endeavours, or a brilliant writer and artist using the AI assistant to help them solve a challenging programming problem that they may otherwise have struggled to solve. It may also imply reducing the entrance hurdle for fan-made initiatives like translations and unofficial continuations of ended properties, similar to the efforts of Toby Fox or Lucas Pope.
Naturally, this all presumes that the problem of AI being taught on the work of unwary creatives has been resolved. Currently, public perception and legality are the two major obstacles preventing this technology from being extensively employed. Because most AI is currently taught on work that has been created without the creator's consent, many AI-driven art isn't precisely well-received online.
How AI Could Oversaturate Video Games
While it's true that AI will enable more individuals to create video games, it might also result in a massive market glut, which has already caused issues for the games business. With AI aid, it will be much simpler for lazy creators to produce cheap games as a fast rip-off. This has been a problem in the past; according to Gamesindustry.biz, in 2017 Valve removed 173 asset flip games from the shop.
As AI-generated material can at least seem slightly different from the bundles of pre-bought items now employed, AI helpers might make these games easier to develop and tougher to identify. It's not difficult to understand why the advent of AI helpers would cause some people to feel uneasy, especially when you consider the possibility for the really young and untrained to create a game out of sheer whim.
Another Gaming Explosion
Another increase in the number of games being released might be caused by AI. In order to ensure the future of Steam, it may even eventually compel Valve to implement some quality control on the titles it is approving. If AI material oversaturates the market, there is risk that consumers would lose trust in industry institutions, which might result in a crash comparable to the one that occurred in the early 1980s. A significant number of subpar software was published at the same time as the crash, according to sources like History Computer, and there was no consumer counselling accessible at the time.
The legality of AI-assisted game creation is the last significant challenge. As we've already indicated, the general public does not now appreciate AI-driven art, particularly not in online communities. Because the gaming business is so heavily reliant on the internet, it appears that the obstacles may be greater here than elsewhere, and many players may view refraining from purchasing AI-driven games as an essential moral position.
The Video Game Industry Needs Solid Guidelines Around AI
We've discussed extensively about the possible advantages and disadvantages of AI-assisted game creation, but it's important to keep in mind that all of these potential problems can and should be taken into account. It would almost likely be prudent to try to implement some slightly stronger quality control standards that are industry-wide if Valve and other major digital sellers want to prevent a repetition of recent game crashes.
A smart place to start would be to simply restrict the number of games that a business may distribute without special licence. It would restrict the number of games that a publisher may release from their backlog, but it seems like a tiny price to pay to keep the industry humming around healthily.
Additionally, the games business shouldn't wait until the government forces legislation upon it. Any business, whether it is the Comic Code Authority or the ESRB, has self-imposed norms and standards that are an essential component of a thriving sector.
Could AI Be the Future of Gaming?
There's little question that in the not-too-distant future, AI will be present in our games as it begins to permeate more and more sectors of the economy. We've listed a few major effects AI may have, whether they're good or bad is up for dispute.
But what if AI overtakes human creators in the gaming industry, putting them in a minor role? We hope that's not the case and that artificial intelligence serves developers as a well-regulated tool rather than a substitute.