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EA Says AI Will Drive Microtransaction Sales, Help Games Get Made Faster; No Comment On Human Impact

EA just laid off 670 people and is speaking positively about the prospects for AI in the future.


Electronic Arts is a big believer in AI. CEO Andrew Wilsons said during a Morgan Stanley speaking event this week that AI could help lead to a number of efficiencies for the company that could help it to develop and release games faster, and make more money from them. Wilson gave this speech not long after the company laid off 670 people. Many have raised concerns that AI could negatively impact the people who make games and their jobs, but Wilson spent his speaking event talking up what he sees as the positives. He did not discuss how EA's plans for AI could impact human jobs.

He said EA's games are already using generative AI, adding that AI is "something we are embracing deeply." He said big games take around 6-7 years to make, and EA's ambition is to make the game development process more efficient.

Wilson went on to say that EA has conducted a study across all of its development processes and found that 60% of development processes have a "high feasibility" of being positively impacted by generative AI.

As an example, Wilson said in the past it took six months to develop a stadium in one of its sports games, and now it takes six weeks. In the future, it could take six days, he said.

EA's ambition, Wilson said, is to use generative AI to make its development processes 30% more efficient. Wilson said EA's development teams are driven by the desire to "get to the fun faster" and release games faster. The aim is to "get to greatness much more quickly," he said.

Generative AI could also help games become more compelling, Wilson said. As an example, he said FIFA 23 has 12 "run cycles," or animations for how players run in the game. In FC 24, there are 1,200, he said. Every time an EA game gets "bigger" or "deeper," Wilson said more people come to EA's games and spend more time playing them.

Right now, EA has a playerbase of 700 million players, Wilson said, and the aim in the future is to add 50% more over time.

In terms of monetization, Wilson said generative AI can help with creating "personalized" and "bespoke" content that players will be more interested in spending money on. He said EA has the potential to make 10%-20% revenue more from microtransactions with generative AI baked in.

Finally, Wilson said if EA can succeed with its AI ambitions, its games could potentially reach a network of more than 3 billion people, and those people could use AI to "expand and enhance" EA's games with user-generated content. If EA's vision comes to life, the company would become "the beneficiary of platform economics," he said.

Wilson ended his talk on AI by stressing that it continues to be "early days" for AI, noting that it seems like issues with AI are popping up on a daily basis. Despite that, Wilson said EA is "more excited than we've ever been" about AI.

Prior to this, Wilson warned that advances to AI would lead to job losses. Wilson said the "fear of displacement of the workforce" is a legitimate issue as it pertains to AI. History has shown that major revolutions like the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution led to "displacement" in the workforce in the near term and then "meaningful increases" in job opportunities down the road. AI could follow a similar trajectory,

EA is not alone in its admiration for AI. Microsoft is heavily invested in AI and has said AI will be baked into every product it makes going forward, including Xbox. Microsoft also implemented mass layoffs around the same time of pushing further into AI.

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