Blizzard slammed for threatening artist jobs with AI

Blizzard slammed for threatening artist jobs with AI
Blizzard | Vertical Entertainment

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Published 

5th May 2023 12:49

The future is here, and boy, it's a grim one. While we're still a way off a Terminator 2: Judgement Day future where the human race has been obliterated, we're edging closer to a Black Mirror-inspired fate where its rests in the hands of technology. At the forefront of this is AI.

We imagine the likes of Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and DaVinci are spinning in their graves, knowing that someone is trying to usurp their work through the use of AI. While artists were once commended for their works as one-off originals, it's now over to machines to try and replicate them.

Blizzard is slammed for a potential AI future

Diablo artwork Blizzard
Click to enlarge
Blizzard Entertainment

While journalism is already under threat because of AI (how do you know it's not an AI writing this?), gaming is the next major industry that's sure to tap into its potential. In typical Blizzard style, the gaming giant is being slammed for dipping its toe into AI.

As spotted by GamesRadar, Blizzard has made a patent for a system that will use AI to flesh out artwork in a style specific to its titles. Given that World of Warcraft and Diablo have a very unique style, the idea that AI could be stealing jobs away from flesh-and-bone artists hasn't gone down well. 

The patent uses graphic AI generation, where you input a piece of artwork and the machine learns its style to create its own version. The problem is, it requires someone's actual art to learn form, meaning there might be no use for the original artist if a machine can replicate their work.

Is the future of gaming in AI?

The idea would definitely save a considerable amount of time and money, but as you can imagine, the news went down like a lead balloon online. One wrote, "Blizzard wanting to use AI art when their art teams are the only things keeping the company afloat let me not LAUGH."

Another added, "I love Diablo. But artists are way more important than this game. F**k you Blizzard, and f**k AI," while former Blizzard designer Eric Covington wrote, "My artist colleagues deserve better. Players deserve better. 'Blizzard quality' has always been championed as hand-crafted. This is depressing."

Not everyone agreed. A fourth concluded, "There's a lot more detail than I can say here in a short tweet, but the AI development tools people are hearing about regarding Blizzard are not artist replacements. They're tools that do procedural things that have already existed that save artists tons of busy work."

As we've seen through the ride of programs like Midjourney and ChatGPT, AI is an emerging tech that's taking over. GamesRadar notes that someone used ChatGPT to create new quests for The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion, while we've previously written about AI writing a questionable story arc for The Last of Us Part 3

There's already one site online that's recreated some Diablo-esque dragons using AI, showing Blizzard's work is already being copied. As the AI argument rages on, it also raises an interesting question about copyright. Blizzard has often been called out for its questionable decisions, but for some, this is a new low. 

Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.

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