Blizzard claps back at World of Warcraft’s AI claims

Blizzard claps back at World of Warcraft’s AI claims
Images via Blizzard

Written by 

Joseph Kime


2nd Apr 2024 10:50

The appearance of AI in video games has become a hot topic in gaming communities across the internet, even though games have featured AI for many years. The difference here is the appearance of generative AI, a computer system that improvises its own solutions to problems as it goes along.

Gaming joins the conversation alongside systems like Sora and ChatGPT, and as some companies are leaning heavily into AI, many fans think its application is too haywire to be considered anything other than a greedy money-saving measure.

We're finally at a point where fans presume AAA developers are going to feature AI in their games. World of Warcraft has been accused of using generative AI on new questlines, but one team member is adamant that it's not about to adopt the new method.

World of Warcraft isn't using generative AI

Sylvanas holds a helmet with a grimace in World of Warcraft: Shadowlands.
Click to enlarge

The director of the entire Warcraft franchise has been open about their approach to AI - predominantly, that they’re not going to be using the new generative action to help develop World of Warcraft.

"I am the son of an aeronautical engineer and a fine artist. My mom was the aeronautical engineer and my dad was a fine artist…So I have that appreciation for the creative process, what an artist goes through in their imagination,” John Hight says in a conversation with IGN.

"I think the artists on the team have a fear that the AI will be deployed to take them out of a job and they certainly don't want their work to be used without their permission or without credit or whatever else, and so I think we're all sorting that out."

Hight reiterated, "We're not using generative AI within WoW." Even though generative AI seems to be all anyone can talk about, it looks like nothing new is coming to WoW. Still, the benefits of machine learning have been impacting the franchise for years.

Machine learning already plays a role in WoW development

A Druid scowls with rage in World of Warcraft.
Click to enlarge

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Even though AI isn't about to come for WoW jobs, it's already been ticking away in the background. "We have used machine learning to help do things that people either can’t do or it’s very cumbersome to do," said Hight.

"The fitting of armour on characters, you see how many different characters we have. Our artists used to have to go through and they'd build it for human form and then they'd have to go and retrofit all these things for all the various body shapes and horns and big snouts and tails and all of that. That is just not particularly fun work for them.

For some fans, this obviously doesn't sound ideal in its current context. Hight is right that the work is laborious and for little real payoff with better applications of developer time. Don't panic, it doesn’t look like clunky AI dialogue will make it into World of Warcraft anytime soon.

Joseph Kime is the Senior Trending News Journalist for GGRecon from Devon, UK. Before graduating from MarJon University with a degree in Journalism, he started writing music reviews for his own website before writing for the likes of FANDOM, Zavvi and The Digital Fix. He is host of the Big Screen Book Club podcast, and author of Building A Universe, a book that chronicles the history of superhero movies. His favourite games include DOOM (2016), Celeste and Pokemon Emerald.

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