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EA Says AI Will Help Its Teams Get To "Holy Grail" Of Game Development

"The holy grail for us is to build bigger, more innovative, more creative, more fun games more quickly."


Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson is very optimistic that generative artificial intelligence could help the company reach the "holy grail" of game development. Speaking during the company's latest earnings briefing, Wilson said EA's 40-year history will be an accelerant for the company's plans for generative AI, because it can bake those learnings into a model to help make games faster and make them more innovative and fun. Or at least that's what the executive hopes. Wilson is making these comments not long after laying off more than 600 people and cancelling games.

Wilson said EA's developers are asking for advances to AI to help them with their daily processes, though he did not share any specific people or teams within EA that are actively hyped about generative AI. "I would tell you, there was a real hunger amongst our developers to get to this as quickly as possible because, again, the holy grail for us is to build bigger, more innovative, more creative, more fun games more quickly so that we can entertain more people around the world on a global basis at a faster rate," Wilson said.

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Wilson went on to say that the "AI evolution" is still in the "very early" stages, but generative AI tools are already helping EA's teams to speed up progress. He cited an example of how the developers of EA's soccer series can now create stadiums in six weeks rather than six months, and he believes this timeline could accelerate further still. For FC 24, Wilson said the game features more than 1,200 running animations for its virtual athletes, which compares to 36 in the game's immediate predecessor, FIFA 23.

"So again, starting to add to the individuality and uniqueness of each player and delivering our players more immersion in the game, a more engaging experience that is more true to what they watch on television on a Sunday afternoon," Wilson said. "And so as we think about the first pillar of generative AI for us, we're really looking at how can it make us more efficient, how can it give our developers more power, how can it give them back more time and allow them to get to the fun more quickly."

Overall, Wilson said generative AI could be a "meaningful opportunity" for the company in the future. He also reiterated that EA conducted a review and found that more than 50% of its game development processes could be positively impacted by generative AI.

The executive went on to say generative AI could not only help EA make games faster, but make them bigger. "How do we build bigger worlds with more characters and more interesting story lines? And if efficiency starts to really take place over the next 1-3 years, our expectation is that, over a 3-to-5-year time horizon, we will be able to, as part of our massive online communities and blockbuster storytelling, build bigger, more immersive worlds that engage more players uniquely around the world," he said.

Looking further out, potentially in the next five-plus years, Wilson said EA might look to hand over its generative AI tools, or a version of them, to players so they can leverage them to create their own content. "Not to replace what we do but to augment, enhance, extend, expand the nature of what interactive entertainment can be in much the way YouTube did for traditional film and television," he said.

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. The executive said 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, Wilson said.

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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