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AI Is Changing How We Play… and Monetize Video Games!

Here are 5 trends to track in immersive media gaming and AI right now:

  • Game Development and AI
  • The Rise of Generative AI and More Realistic Games
  • Cultural Diversity with AI Technology
  • Monetization Pathways with AI Technology  

As we know, gaming changes with each generation.

Pong by Atari was released in 1972 and was just a table-tennis 2D graphic game. Arcade games ruled the roost. Then consoles like Nintendo and Sega flooded the market, followed by a rush of PC, handheld, and mobile, and now an influx of cloud-based and VR entries to the market.

We’ve come a long way from the graphics of Super Mario Brothers 3 (mandatory sound effect). Now with the advent of modern technology, video games have evolved into amazingly complex and immersive virtual worlds that provide players with a unique experience every time they play. The opportunity to integrate AI into video games has further enhanced the gaming experience, making it more personalized, interactive, and challenging… leading to new ways for platforms to leverage and monetize that gaming experience. Here’s how:

Game Development and AI

AI can help reduce development costs in gaming. Experiments in deep learning technology indicate that AI can program a playable game using nothing but photographs, which conceptually means this could lead to large open-world games being created by AI. These worlds could then be edited by developers and designers into a more curated form, leading to an elevated user experience.  

Here are a few articles with development companies discussing their belief in AI:

  • Roblox Corporation: anticipates AI will “revolutionize creation on the platform”
  • Electronic Arts: dedicates research to multiple aspects of AI and Machine Learning
  • Epic Games: supports AI experimentation, but doesn't approve of art scraping
  • Sony: AI evolves gaming beyond rule-based systems through reinforcement learning
  • Valve Corporation: machine learning can suggest which games to play next
  • Facebook, Inc.: "all in" on virtual reality and metaverse initiatives powered by AI

The Rise of Generative AI and More Realistic Games

Generative AI is gaining explosive traction in the gaming industry. In a recent paper, gaming experts at Andreesen Horowitz indicated that generative AI has the potential to transform gaming more radically than any other category of entertainment, delivering high-quality, highly iterative experiences in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost of traditional game development today.

Mastercard's Newsroom highlights the potential of generative AI in gaming, noting that it can help create more lifelike environments that are responsive to player actions. This kind of dynamic environment can help create a more immersive gaming experience, making the game more enjoyable and engaging.

A recent Harvard study indicates that instead of humans playing against AI, the technology will be used to create more challenging opponents for players, as well as enhance game AI capabilities. By developing AI video games, researchers can improve the performance of AI algorithms in gaming environments, similar to the below illustrations:

Cultural Diversity with AI Technology

Recent advancements in AI have enabled game developers to create NPCs that are not only more responsive and realistic but also culturally diverse. For instance, Reverie Language Technologies has developed an AI-powered language engine that supports more than 27 Indian languages, allowing game developers to create NPCs that speak and understand multiple Indian languages.

This technology has the potential to revolutionize the gaming experience for players who speak different languages and dialects. NPCs that can converse in a player's native language can create a more immersive and relatable gaming experience, thereby attracting a more diverse player base. Furthermore, AI-powered NPCs can also help preserve cultural diversity by representing various regional cultures in video games.

The integration of AI into the gaming industry is transforming the way we play and interact with video games. From improving player experiences to enhancing game development processes, AI has the power to revolutionize the gaming industry. As AI technology continues to evolve and improve, we can expect to see even more innovations in the world of gaming, making it an exciting time for gamers and game developers alike.

Monetization Pathways with AI Technology

There are several monetization pathways with AI technology in video games, including:

Personalized In-Game Advertising: AI algorithms can analyze player data to create personalized advertisements that are more likely to resonate with individual players. Ubisoft used generative AI in their "DeepMind" campaign to create personalized ads for their game "Assassin's Creed Valhalla,” where AI algorithms analyzed player data to generate unique ad experiences based on their preferences and behaviors. The personalized ads featured gameplay footage, character interactions, and in-game events to create a tailored and immersive ad experience for each player, resulting in increased engagement, higher click-through rates, and higher conversion rates.

Microtransactions: AI can analyze player behavior and tailor in-game purchases to their interests, increasing the likelihood that players will make a purchase. The mobile game Clash of Clans is a prime example of a game that relies heavily on microtransactions. The game's developer, Supercell, reported $2.2 billion in revenue in 2021, a 51% YoY increase, with the majority of that revenue coming from in-app purchases made by players.

Predictive Analytics: AI algorithms can analyze player data to predict player behavior and preferences, allowing developers to create more targeted marketing campaigns.  The popular mobile game Candy Crush uses predictive analytics to create targeted marketing campaigns. The game's developer, King, analyzes player data to predict which players are most likely to make in-app purchases and then serves them targeted ads and offers. Procedural Content Generation: AI can generate unique and varied game content, reducing the need for expensive and time-consuming human content creation. No Man's Sky is a popular game that uses procedural content generation to create a vast and varied universe for players to explore. The game's developer, Hello Games, uses AI algorithms to generate planets, creatures, and other content in real time as players explore the game's universe.

Data: With a market value of over $300 billion, the global gaming industry continues to make great strides and connect millions of gamers worldwide. While it may be incredible how much global revenue the market generates, the massive amount of data produced by games is even more impressive. Games such as Fortnite and League of Legends use AI algorithms to analyze player behavior data, such as how often they play, which characters they choose, and how they interact with other players. This data is used to improve game balance, create new content, and optimize the player experience.