Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard has trained a new A.I. concept art tool on its own assets

One Blizzard lead says they’re on the “brink of a major evolution”

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Blizzard Entertainment looks to be wading into the burgeoning artificial intelligence, or A.I., movement in game development. A new report details a tool that Blizzard has made, which can generate images based on its own games.

In a report from The New York Times, Blizzard’s tool has been trained on assets from games like World of WarcraftDiablo, and Overwatch. The machine, dubbed Blizzard Diffusion, could then produce new concept art for new ideas.

In an email seen by The New York Times, Blizzard chief design officer Allen Adham told employees about the new initiative dubbed last month.

“Prepare to be amazed,” said Adham in the email. “We are on the brink of a major evolution in how we build and manage our games.”

Blizzard Diffusion is reportedly being used to help generate concept art for game environments, characters, and outfits. The internal email also reportedly mentions possible tools for procedurally assisted level design, A.I.-assisted voice cloning, game coding, anti-toxicity, and “autonomous, intelligent, in-game NPCs.”

A.I. involvement in games

Blizzard has already been experimenting with A.I. tools in the past. According to the NYT’s report, Blizzard has already abandoned a machine-learning technology it had patented to create environmental textures, as it was taking up too much of artists’ time to be effective. Meanwhile, another tool was assisting with fitting headpieces to players in World of Warcraft.

“The goal is to remove the repetitive and manual process and enable artists to spend more time on creativity,” Blizzard’s vice president of global insights Andrew Guerrero told The New York Times. “Our goal with A.I. has been, and will continue to be, to try to make creative work easier.”

It seems like A.I. technology is the hot-button topic now, and more developers have been examining it. Ubisoft, for example, developed its Ghostwriter tool for drafting NPC dialogue. And according to the Times report, Niantic has also used ChatGPT to create marketing materials.

But there are genuine ethical concerns as well. The use of others’ images and assets without permission or compensation has already come up with A.I. art generators. (According to the Times report, Activision Blizzard employees received an email from chief technology officer Michael Vance warning them not to  use the company’s IP with external image generators.)

There are also valid concerns about displacing workers, as well as preserving the creative process at the heart of making games. It is a balance struck between automating the work no one wants to do and replacing the humans who actually work on the products. While new tech can be alluring, I think a decent dose of skepticism is fairly justified.


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Eric Van Allen
Senior Editor - While Eric's been writing about games since 2014, he's been playing them for a lot longer. Usually found grinding RPG battles, digging into an indie gem, or hanging out around the Limsa Aethryte.