Generative AI will be a big part of the future of game development, EA chief technology officer Marija Radulovic-Nastic believes, but maybe not at the expense of developers.
Speaking at the Collision conference in Toronto on Tuesday, Radulovic-Nastic downplayed the idea that developers should be worried about their jobs because of the tech.
"I personally believe that Gen AI will be a co-pilot to our people, and has the opportunity to scale and enhance human creativity," Radulovic-Nastic said. "But the top talent, especially top talent that we employ, will be amplified and will never be, in my mind, replaced."
"The top talent, especially top talent that we employ, will be amplified and will never be, in my mind, replaced"
Part of that optimism may be tied to the ever-increasing scope of AAA game development, as she added, "Because those large game communities have a massive appetite for consumption and creation of the content, I think we'll just be able to do more."
Radulovic-Nastic said she's seen results from experiments with generative AI that have reduced tasks that used to take six months to six weeks, with some things that took a couple weeks getting done in a couple minutes.
"Generative AI gives us the opportunity to iterate on ideas and content faster, which then drives the quality of the creative experience," she said.
While Radulovic-Nastic was clearly sold on the potential of generative AI, Radulovic-Nastic said it was important to treat it like any emerging technology, giving people thoughtful but clear guidelines on how to use it. At the moment, that's why EA is focusing its use on the ideation phase of development.
"In generative AI, you always have questions about IP protection," she said. "You want to know what kind of data was used to train the models. That's why I'm saying currently for Gen AI our main focus is ideation. But all in all, it is definitely acknowledged that it will continue to be at the forefront of gaming for a very long time."
Radulovic-Nastic said the tech will impact how people play, watch, create, and connect to games, with a particular nod to its potential for enabling user-generated content.
"As game makers, we believe [UGC is] as big a change for us as the change from 2D to 3D or from offline to online"
"UGC has been a big part of gaming these days," she said. "For Gen Z, creation is absolutely a core part of what gaming experiences are. As game makers, we believe it's as big a change for us as the change from 2D to 3D or from offline to online. So in that context, generative AI will help creation."
She was also asked about cloud gaming – she sees it as an addition to current ways to play games rather than a substitute for them – and the metaverse, which is often entwined with VR and AR and has been fading in excitement after a surge of interest a couple years ago.
"Any technology space that Apple just entered is probably not fading away," Radulovic-Nastic said, referring to the recently announce Apple Vision Pro AR headset.
"But as a game maker and technologist, I've always believed that technology needs those special moments when perfect application and experience design is taking advantage of it, and that's a breakthrough in technology. And then you have that influence more advancements in hardware.
"In that area, gaming will play a big role in the future of AR and VR headsets."