Web3 games can explode thanks to artificial intelligence, says AI gaming CEO

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Over the years, various crypto niches have been said to be the use case that will finally bring blockchain mass adoption. Some point to supply chains, cross-border payments or even music, but others have long suggested Web3 gaming could usher in this new era. 

More recently, artificial intelligence (AI) has been one of the hottest narratives, with AI-focused tokens seeing massive price surges in 2023 during a time when the broader crypto market was mostly trading sideways. While blockchain gaming has faded a bit in the public eye, AI seems to not be going anywhere.

One of its most prominent use cases is generative AI, in which the technology creates images, video, text, music, etc., from prompts imputed by a user. First popularized in the mainstream by OpenAI’s DALL-E in early 2021, the generative AI industry has exploded and become so ubiquitous that it’s nearly impossible to exist online today without encountering some form of AI-generated content — whether consumers realize it or not.

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Meanwhile, the gaming industry continues to be worth billions of dollars, and developers have quietly been working to develop new games with blockchain elements. One startup, Atlas, collaborates with many of these companies to bring generative AI to gaming. On Episode 30 of The Agenda podcast, hosts Jonathan DeYoung and Ray Salmond were joined by Atlas CEO Ben James to discuss generative AI in gaming, Web3 games, the continued evolution of artificial intelligence, and more.

The future of Web3 gaming

The idea of bringing blockchain to gaming has received its fair share of criticism from traditional gamers, many of whom see the introduction of cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as nothing more than a cash grab by greedy gaming studios. It’s worth noting that this criticism is not limited to NFTs and blockchain games — gamers are just as upset when traditional developers further monetize games beyond the initial cost of the game itself.

According to James, game developers have recognized that crypto and NFTs have a negative reputation and perhaps aren’t worth highlighting as selling points. “A lot of game developers that are developing Web3 games have said they want to stop talking about Web3 versus Web2 gaming because they want the Web3 element to just make a better game,” he told DeYoung and Salmond. “They want a better experience for the gamer to come from their use of the new technology, whether that’s blockchain or AI in our case.”

“It doesn’t need to be the front-and-center selling point. It’s still about gameplay. It’s still about that experience. It’s still about getting lost in those really interesting creative worlds and encounters. And the technology element of that, like blockchain, just facilitates that in a meaningful way.”

Generative AI can help support the development and growth of Web3-powered games because it allows users to more easily generate digital assets such as weapons and other in-game items that users can then own. “User-generated content is a way to introduce creativity into the gameplay itself,” said James, “and that’s something that creates much more meaningful and interesting relationships for a player and for the game that they’re playing.”

Related: AI-powered NPCs could live forever and exist in multiple games — Yat Siu

“You, as an inexperienced content creator, have the ability to create something that is truly your own and unique without having that knowledge of how to code, how to model assets. But I think the Web3 ethos has really permeated that and aligns very well with our vision for where we think this is going.”

The role of generative AI in gaming

Outside of Web3, major game publishers such as Square Enix — which backs Atlas — have begun to embrace generative AI as a way to increase productivity and the speed at which games can be developed. James claimed that Atlas’ technology can bring efficiency games of 200x to projects. “A large game developer will stereotypically see that 200x efficiency gain and think, I can be so much more efficient as a game developer,” he said, explaining that it becomes impossible to scale large enough to keep up with customer demands at a certain point.

But James also argued that indie game developers stand to benefit from these technological advances just as much as large developers:

“When we speak to small, medium and indie game developers, they hear that statistic, and they think, ‘I can make a map that is 200 times larger than I’ve ever been able to make before,’ and ‘I have this idea that I’ve always wanted to make for a large, open-world game, and it’s never been possible for me to make that.’”

A common criticism of AI is that while the technology is impressive, it will inevitably take jobs away from actual humans. When asked about this, James responded, “It’s a transformative technology. I don’t think there’s any way around that.” According to the CEO, “Some the jobs where somebody is doing repetitive, banal sort of structural work, that is a job that is probably at risk, that sometime in the future there will be an AI solution that can automate that process and do it infinitely faster than those humans could do.”

However, James remains optimistic that AI is not about to entirely replace human game developers anytime soon. “I think, optimistically, what AI cannot do is AI cannot be as creative as an individual.” He pointed out that even if an AI can program game worlds at a speed faster than any individual can, it will still need humans to tell it what and how to create, fine-tune the environments, and make the game itself creative and enjoyable.

“My optimistic view on it is that the jobs where creativity [is] at the center and the forefront, those are the jobs that are going to become more and more important.”

To hear more from James’s conversation with The Agenda — including how musicians could use Atlas, how blockchain can help fact-check deepfakes, and more — listen to the full episode on Cointelegraph’s Podcasts page, Apple Podcasts or Spotify. And don’t forget to check out Cointelegraph’s full lineup of other shows!

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This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal or investment advice. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.