Chinese video gaming companies rush to join AI-generated content bandwagon amid ChatGPT frenzy

  • At least a dozen Chinese video gaming firms have posted on online job platforms and Boss Zhipin, looking for AIGC talent
  • Some content creators are worried that new AI technologies – which tend to excite senior management – could threaten jobs in some areas

Chinese video gaming companies are stampeding into artificial intelligence-generated content (AIGC), the concept behind ChatGPT, the AI chatbot that has taken the tech world by storm.

Several Chinese gaming developers and publishers, including NetEase and miHoYo, have expressed an interest in hiring talent or investing in AIGC technologies since the AI chatbot hit the headlines.

At least a dozen Chinese gaming companies have posted on online recruitment platforms and Boss Zhipin, looking for engineers, researchers and art designers related to AIGC technologies.

TapTap, the mobile game store under Hong Kong-listed gaming company XD Inc,is offering up to 500 yuan (US$73) per day for interns with a “solid foundation in computer vision or machine learning algorithms”, with a preference for those that have published top academic articles.

Shanghai-based Giant Network is offering a salary of up to 1.1 million yuan per year for the leader of its AI team, who would provide leadership for the company’s in-house teams on cutting-edge AIGC trends.

Kunlun Tech, a Shenzhen-listed online video games publisher, has simply attached two labels to a job post, AIGC and ChatGPT, signalling its intent to hire talent in the space.

Another company describing itself as a “renowned Shenzhen-based gaming company”, without elaborating, is offering an annual salary of up to 770,000 yuan for candidates who can take on the “research and reproduction of mainstream AIGC algorithms” and adapt the technology to gaming scenarios.

Some companies have been quick off the mark to apply AIGC to existing products.

NetEase, China’s second-largest video gaming company, will apply a ChatGPT-like service to Justice Online, a mobile title slated for launch in June, the company said in mid-February.

The service will enable players to talk to, or interact with, the non-player characters (NPCs) in the game based on AI training models developed by its in-house studio Leihuo. “For example, if you tell an NPC: ‘your home is on fire’, the NPC will rush to his home quickly so that you don’t have to fight with the NPC as a task in the game,” according to a post published on the game’s official WeChat account in February.

The so-called “intelligent NPC system” uses the same underlying AI technology as ChatGPT, which NetEase has been developing since as far back as 2021, the company said.

Before this year’s excitement over ChatGPT, Tencent Holdings, NetEase and miHoYo established in-house AI labs in 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively, to promote the use of AI in self-developed video games.

Tencent’s AI Lab has already applied AIGC technology to its flagship titles including Honour of Kings, to enhance game content such as character movements.

“Large tech companies like Tencent have been pushing ahead with AI applications for years, but they have not tapped very deeply into the vertical area of AIGC to date,” said Zhang Shule, an analyst at CBJ Think Tank. The emergence of ChatGPT will prompt gaming companies to step up AIGC development while also devoting more time to creative work, which AI cannot replace, added Zhang.

“AIGC definitely has a future in video gaming. It can improve efficiency in game development and design, whether it is for animation production, art design, character design or coding, but it cannot fully replace human thinking,” said Zhang.

Meanwhile miHoYo, creator of hit action role-playing game Genshin Impact, is preparing to join a new round of financing for Chinese AI chatbot developer MiniMax. The studio participated in the first two rounds that brought the market value of the start-up to US$500 million, according to a report last week by industry media outlet Coreesports.

“Over the next five years, AIGC will greatly change many aspects of the gaming industry,” Guo Weiwei, chief executive of Seasun, the gaming subsidiary of Chinese software company Kingsoft, said at an annual gaming industry conference last month.

“In many battle games, the data gathered by the AI will repeatedly imitate the performance of high-level real person players. Just like playing chess online, it may be difficult to discern whether you are playing against an AI or a real person in the future,” Guo said.

Chinese gaming companies have traditionally been quick to adopt new technologies into their products.

When the concept of the metaverse heated up as a global tech topic last year, a large number of game studios in China rushed to claim they were adopting the concept into their games, as did Western game studios such as Roblox and Epic Games.

However, some content creators are worried that new technologies – which tend to excite senior management – could be a potential threat to some areas of gaming talent.

Dash Huang Yimeng, founder and chairman of XD Inc, said on Twitter earlier this month that he had seen two video game studios recently replace outsourced art design and translation teams with AI.

“AI has actually begun to affect the jobs of many people,” said Huang. “Everyone must be prepared to embrace change.”


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