Xbox discusses how AI can benefit developers and consumers

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Artificial intelligence is the new buzzword in gaming, and people’s reaction to it is mixed. At the Wells Fargo TMT summit, Xbox chief financial officer and corporate vice president of finance and operations Tim Stuart spoke a bit about the role of AI in Microsoft’s vision for its gaming sector.

Stuart is optimistic about what AI can do and sees it as a tool that can simplify developers’ lives. Several aspects of game development can be automated with AI, such as localization and game testing. He also gives the following hypothetical scenario: “you now say ‘I need the player to get from A to B’ and instead of having to write thousands of lines of scripting or code, you just have the AI get you from A to B.”

He envisions AI making game development accessible to anyone regardless of their coding skills or whether they have a team available to help them. This is possible thanks to AI’s ability to “generate code, instances, games, and art assets.” Consequently, as Stuart argues, we’ll experience an explosion of “citizen creators” and your local barista with a good idea will be able to turn it into a great mobile game easily.

Stuart also imagines how AI will make gaming better for players. One of the ways this can occur is through AI-generated game recommendations helping players to find titles to match their moods and preferences.

The conversation isn’t solely centered on AI, and Stuart touches on other matters important to Xbox, including the recent Activision Blizzard acquisition. He claims the integration of the megacorp is aimed at leveraging “what Activision is so good at, which is consoles, and PC, and mobile.” The acquisition has also allowed for an exchange of knowledge, and he points out that learning from the Call of Duty team has been very valuable.

Stuart stresses, as Xbox repeatedly has in the past, that the company is geared toward bringing its games to every screen that can play games. Expectedly, he sings the praises of Game Pass, arguing that it remains a great deal for players. As he explains: “I’m paying $17 a month and I get access to hundreds of games. The value is there.”

Game Pass also benefits Microsoft financially, as it is less risky than relying on a few big AAA releases yearly. Betting on a game can be disastrous when it fails to find an audience, but Xbox has had several success stories, with Minecraft being one of the most notable examples. The proposition sounded wild at face value – Microsoft was planning to spend $2.5 billion on a blocky game where you block down trees, but it ended up being one of its most lucrative acquisitions.

The folks at Xbox aren’t the only ones deeply considering the potential of AI. Take-Two has also expressed interest in the technology and how it can improve NPCs.

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