Ubisoft boss: generative AI is just another new technology to be tested

Ubisoft boss: generative AI is just another new technology to be tested

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“It doesn’t work all the time. Sometimes you are too early.”

Ubisoft Neo NPC game demo showing a character watching a TV screen with a live feed from a drone.

Image credit: Ubisoft

Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot has discussed the company’s strategy of experimenting with generative AI, as detailed in today’s announcement of NEO NPCs – a new prototype project from Ubisoft designed to let video game characters respond with custom responses to players’ speech input.

Speaking at a press briefing for the NEO NPC project held at GDC this week in San Francisco, attended by Eurogamer’s Chris Tapsell, Guillemot likened Ubisoft’s experimentation with generative AI to some of its other early bets on emerging technology, like Xbox’s camera Kinect and Nintendo’s motion-controlled Wii.

Asked whether Ubisoft was sometimes too early with taking up new tech, Guillemot responded: “It’s not always too early. Sometimes, you are right. But being able to adopt the Wii early was a good move because we were able to do things we couldn’t do before. Kinect was also very interesting, because it gave us a chance to create new experiences that were very reactive. We created Just Dance with the Wii.

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“We think each time when new technology is coming on a new machine you have the possibility to create new experiences,” he continued. “When the Xbox capacity came, we were able to create Splinter Cell… You can always do new things you wanted to do because the technology is at the level that allow you to create those experiences.

“But it doesn’t work all the time,” he noted. “Sometimes you are too early.”

Ubisoft has repeatedly been at the forefront of supporting new console technology – the tablet-controlled ZombiU on Wii U is another example – but caught flak for jumping aboard the NFT and blockchain train, most notably with failed experiment Ubisoft Quartz.

“What you have to consider is all new evolutions are to be considered and tested,” Guillemot said when asked if NEO NPCs was another risk similar to Quartz. “Generative AI is really something that existed in our industry for a long time. Now we are taking another step because there’s a lot of investment in that subject, so video games are going to use it – like other industries will do.”

Just today, a Unity-backed generative AI company announced a “sample” cyberpunk game with custom dialogue and behaviours for its characters.

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