Imagine video games where the non-player characters (NPCs) interact in a human-like manner with the players and simulate real-life situations. Now that is some fantastic gaming experience. It is not the developer’s fiction but very much a reality.
Video games have evolved a long way from Nintendo’s classic Mario Bros, released in 1985, to the top-rated AI-driven Red Dead Redemption 2 released by Rockstar Games a few years ago. Red Dead Redemption 2 still serves as one of the finest examples of AI’s augmenting NPC interaction. NPCs in this game are more engaging and reactive to the surroundings with their human-like behavior, thus offering an emotional edge to the user experience. Here, AI brought life to the digital world and significantly enhanced the gaming experience.
For a market that will reach $256.97 billion by 2025, Artificial Intelligence brings in multiple enterprise-level applications around game development, playing experience, monetization and gamer community management. It also brings its share of privacy concerns, fair data usage, and efficiency of such processes. The tech giants like AWS, Google, and Microsoft are investing heavily in this industry due to the vast volume of data generated via social media integration and engagement, in-app purchases, and real-time events.
With multiple socially connected devices, gaming companies need to understand the massive inflow of data (both structured and unstructured) to make better business decisions. We dive deeper into the areas that form the foundation of AI in the gaming value chain.
Building a safer gaming environment: Players often face toxic behavior, more so if they belong to a marginalized group. The instances range from offensive threats to gender-specific negative remarks. The abundance of nefarious behavior on multiplayer gaming platforms not only makes the gaming experience unpleasant but goes against the company’s objective of providing a safer, enjoyable experience. Here, AI acts as a savior by detecting the likelihood of a player exhibiting toxic behavior through the analysis of past chat logs and voice-enabled conversations. It can highlight the situations of such conduct with the help of speech-to-text models and NLPs, and help companies flag such occurrences.
Multilingual Customer Service: With 2.5 billion gamers globally, many gaming platforms need 24X7 multilingual customer support. Chatbots and virtual agents quickly address the challenges like toxic behavior, troubleshooting the game, in-game purchases, and customer support. They are also a great source to collect gamer feedback and answer FAQs about the game. Today, virtual gaming bots are becoming commonplace in messaging apps and services such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype, Discord and other platforms. They are cost-effective and easy to drive commerce and improve the overall game experience.
Promote Responsible Gaming: A 2021 survey revealed that 39% of gamers would like to play responsibly. Responsible AI ensures that the players play without harming their mental or financial well-being. Today, 6-9% of young people in the USA experience problems with gambling, such as anxiety disorders and addiction. The players displaying irresponsible gambling behavior can be segmented by analyzing past player behavior and training the model via clustering or classification.
Prevention of Financial Fraud: With real money and online gaming gaining traction, the gaming industry struggles to tackle the rising fraud. Since the advent of COVID-19, cyber frauds in the gaming industry have increased by 155.9% globally. Typical online gaming scams involve impersonation, stealing credit card details, and manipulating outcomes. To create a fair and secure environment, AI becomes essential. With both supervised and unsupervised learning algorithms based on transaction data and player activity, anomalies hinting at a pattern of fraudulent behavior are easy to spot.
Acquiring Users With a Higher Play-Time Value: Curbing churn rate and increasing the lifetime value of the player base is essential for any gaming company. Clustering techniques can identify the players with high lifetime value to guide marketing efforts. These also help understand the players’ behavior and build different strategies to reduce their churn rate.
Monetizing Play with Dynamic Ad-Insertion: In-game advertising (IGA) has been around for a while, and with the changes in trends and player preferences, game publishers and game tech companies have now come up with dynamic, non-intrusive, in-game advertising solutions. These solutions enhance user experience and increase monetization opportunities for brands and publishers. The ads can be dynamically inserted into the game using AI/ ML algorithms based on gamers’ playing and in-game buying behavior.
Analyzing Future Player Behavior for Targeted Campaigns: The players’ historical data predicts their future behavior, and this information enables gaming companies to personalize their offerings. Specific player insights increase revenue by driving the right incentives or deals to the customers at the right time. Predicting the future behavior of the player also helps in providing the appropriate game design for the player.
Automated Game Leveling: Specific mission-based games pose huge difficulty levels to the players, for example, GTA San Andreas and Far Cry 6. AI can be used to adjust the game’s difficulty level by inculcating Non-Playable-Characters (NPCs) that learn from the players’ actions and use it as the training data for the algorithm to respond to the gamer’s skills. It can also be used to ensure that the conversations with such NPCs vary with the player’s action in the game. Furthermore, when decoding the discontinuity patterns, AI can discover why the step is taken and prevent it with appropriate difficulty for the player.
Personalizing Player Engagement: To boost the customer experience, hyper-personalization must create an unforgettable experience. It begins with understanding the player’s gameplay to define the customized messages that the player will receive. If the player qualifies to receive more than one message, the system factors in the variability with the stages at which the player prioritizes the messages. Algorithms like Monte Carlo Tree Search, used by the team of Activision Blizzard for Call of Duty, help in understanding the player behavior from the past scenarios and prioritize game design or messages that drive longer engagements with the player. With 77% of customers choosing to pay for a brand that provides a personalized experience, the gaming industry remains no exception, making personalization an essential factor.
Remastering Older Games: With each new generation of video game hardware, the graphical quality of new titles continues to mature. Many older games are being revisited through re-releases and remaster or made available once again on modern hardware. Bioware’s Mass Effect: Legendary Edition is one successful franchise reboot. AI can improve the pixels of the image quality present in the game, making it visually appealing. Texture upscaling and Super Resolution use GANs to improve the game’s resolution without skewering the art.
AI and video games are interdependent with AI technology, improving the fun and the gaming experience. Game developers continually contribute to enhancing the practical applications of AI.
However, deep learning technology identified with self-driving cars, natural language processing, and image recognition is not mainstream in commercial game development. Considering the monetization opportunities and possibilities in game development, the investors realize that the gaming industry must blend with real-world experiences to stay profitable.
With the introduction of faster communication technologies like 5G, the gaming industry will transform rapidly, and AI will support this transition. Keeping player centricity and data regulations in mind while building gaming experiences and industry strategies will provide gaming companies with a competitive edge.
To learn how Quantiphi enables gaming companies to drive unprecedented growth, get in touch with our industry experts:
Aman Kureel and Dinesh Yalavarthy