Chinese video game studios rushing towards AI-generated content, away from human creators
Gaming studios and companies in China are investing heavily in AI generators for AIGC or AI-generated content, and turning away from human content creators. This includes writers, programmers, animation artists, VFX specialists, etc.
Chinese video game firms are rushing to create artificial intelligence-generated content (AIGC), the idea behind ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that has swept the tech world.
Since the AI chatbot made news, several Chinese gaming developers and publishers, including NetEase and miHoYo, have indicated interest in recruiting talent or investing in AIGC technologies.
At least a dozen Chinese gaming firms have advertised on the online employment sites Liepin.com and Boss Zhipin for AIGC-related engineers, researchers, and graphic designers.
AIGC takes over
TapTap, a mobile game shop owned by Hong Kong-listed gaming firm XD Inc, is paying trainees up to 500 yuan or $73 per day with a “solid foundation in computer vision or machine learning algorithms,” with a preference for those who have written top scholarly papers.
Giant Network, located in Shanghai, is paying up to 1.1 million yuan per year for the chief of its AI team, who will provide guidance to the company’s in-house teams on cutting-edge AIGC trends.
Kunlun Tech, a Shenzhen-listed online video game producer, has simply added two titles, AIGC and ChatGPT, to a job posting, indicating its intent to recruit talent in the area.
Another business, representing itself as a “renowned Shenzhen-based gaming company,” without providing further details, is offering a yearly wage of up to 770,000 yuan for applicants who can take on the “research and reproduction of mainstream AIGC algorithms” and apply the technology to gaming situations.
AIGC becomes part of the game
Some businesses have been quick to adapt AIGC to current goods.
NetEase, China’s second-largest video game business, announced in mid-February that it will incorporate a ChatGPT-like service into Justice Online, a mobile title set to debut in June.
Based on AI training models created by its in-house studio Leihuo, the service will allow players to speak to or engage with the game’s non-player characters (NPCs). “For example, if you tell an NPC, ‘your home is on fire,’ the NPC will rush to his home quickly, so you don’t have to fight with the NPC as a task in the game,” according to a February post on the game’s official WeChat account.
The so-called “intelligent NPC system” employs the same core AI technology as ChatGPT, which NetEase has been working on since 2021, according to the firm.
Prior to this year’s buzz surrounding ChatGPT, Tencent Holdings, NetEase, and miHoYo created in-house AI labs in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively, to support the use of AI in self-developed video games.
Tencent’s AI Lab has already used AIGC technology to improve game material such as character movement in its flagship games such as Honour of Kings.
“Large tech companies like Tencent have been pushing ahead with AI applications for years, but they have not tapped very deeply into the vertical area of AIGC to date,” said Zhang Shule, an expert at CBJ Think Tank. The rise of ChatGPT will motivate gaming firms to accelerate AIGC development while also dedicating more time to creative work, which AI cannot substitute, according to Zhang.
“AIGC has a bright future in video gaming. It can increase productivity in game development and design, whether for animation production, art design, character design, or coding, but it cannot completely substitute human reasoning,” Zhang explained.
AIGC and the gaming industry
Meanwhile, miHoYo, the author of the popular action role-playing game Genshin Impact, is gearing up to participate in a new round of funding for Chinese AI chatbot maker MiniMax. According to a story last week by industry media source Coreesports, the studio joined in the first two instalments, bringing the start-up’s market valuation to US$500 million.
“AIGC will greatly change many aspects of the gaming industry over the next five years,” Guo Weiwei, chief executive of Seasun, the gaming subsidiary of Chinese software firm Kingsoft, said last month at an annual gaming industry conference.
“In many combat games, AI data will frequently mimic the behaviour of high-level human players. “In the future, it may be difficult to tell whether you are playing against an AI or a real person, just like when playing chess online,” Guo said.
Historically, Chinese gaming firms have been quick to incorporate new technologies into their goods.
When the concept of the metaverse became a global tech subject last year, a large number of Chinese game studios, as well as Western game studios such as Roblox and Epic Games, rushed to say they were incorporating the concept into their games.
However, some content creators are concerned that new technologies, which often excite top management, may pose a danger to certain areas of gaming ability.
Dash Huang Yimeng, creator and chairman of XD Inc, stated earlier this month on Twitter that he had recently seen two video game companies supplant contracted graphic design and localization teams with AI.
“AI has actually begun to affect many people’s jobs,” Huang said. “Everyone must be willing to accept change.”
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