AI Putting Video Game Developer Jobs at Risk?

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The $200 billion games industry is witnessing an unprecedented shift as AI takes a prominent role in reshaping the landscape, putting video game developer jobs at risk.

  • The gaming industry’s digital nature makes it a prime sector for AI adoption.
  • AI presents an opportunity to overhaul the industry’s business model, which has faced criticism for relying on the tried and true.

The $200 billion games industry is experiencing a shift like never before as AI forcibly takes its seat at the table. Executives and leaders from game development capitals are rapidly adopting and developing AI tools to address escalating costs and stagnant prices that have plagued the industry for years.

Gala Sports, a prominent Hong Kong-listed gaming company, is embracing AI wholeheartedly, shelving non-AI research projects and encouraging employees to study machine learning (ML), possibly impacting video game developer jobs.

The CEO of its parent company, Gala Technology Holding Ltd., Jia Xiaodong, told Bloomberg News, “Basically every week, we feel that we are going to be eliminated. The impact of AI on the game industry in the past three to four months may be as dramatic as the changes in the past thirty or forty years.”

AI has provided an opportunity to overhaul the current business model. In recent years, it has been criticized for its bloated and formulaic nature as many games are released each year that are very similar to each other.

The adoption of AI has the potential to cut production costs significantly, as demonstrated by Sony Group Corp.’s blockbuster games, which reportedly cost more than $200 million each and required years of work from hundreds of staff. UBS Securities analyst Kenji Fukuyama estimates that AI can halve the investment of time and money required for such projects, which may affect video game developer jobs.

Apart from reducing costs, AI is reshaping content creation. Crypko, an anime creator, provides character illustrations at a fraction of the usual outsourcing cost using AI. This trend has prompted the birth of AI Works Inc., a company founded by industry veteran and former Touken Ranbu producer Yuta Hanazawa, which sells machine-drawn game illustrations at a significantly lower price point.

“AI is the game changer I’ve been waiting for,” 48-year-old Hanazawa said. By freeing developers from the burden of mass-producing graphics, it promises to revitalize the entire industry. “Publishers will be able to take more risks, creators can become creative again, and users as a result can choose from a much wider variety of games.”

The advancement of AI, though promising for the gaming industry, has raised apprehensions among some professionals, notably over video game developer jobs. Industry analysts anticipate that AI could eventually wipe out entire job categories such as quality control, debugging, customer support, and translation.

Charles Khalifeh, lead XR developer at Synvance with a background in game development, told Inside Telecom, “It might redefine our jobs, but ultimately, it still requires human imagination. AI may never be able to produce something at the same level of human creativity,” highlighting the potential impact on video game developer jobs.

Voice actor Tsubasa Himeno expressed concerns that AI may make it more difficult for young people to enter the business, saying “AI is a pure threat.” On the other end of the discourse, however, others like Yosuke Shiokawa, founder of Fahrenheit 213 Inc., see the opportunities AI presents. Shiokawa believes that creativity will become the primary determinant of a game’s value, rather than budget constraints.

As the gaming industry continues to undergo a transformative period, balancing the potential benefits of AI while mitigating job losses will be key to ensuring a prosperous and innovative future.

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