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The director of the World of Warcraft franchise has stated that Blizzard is not currently utilizing generative AI technology in the popular MMO.

World of Warcraft franchise director John Hight says Blizzard Entertainment isn’t using generative AI in the massively multiplayer online game (MMO). During a recent interview with IGN at the Game Developers Conference 2024, Hight explained that AI is the most exciting thing for the games industry right now, specifically machine learning, a tool that has been used by studios for years to make tasks easier for developers, not generative AI.

In the case of World of Warcraft, the team uses machine learning to help fit armor onto character models as opposed to developers doing it manually for each one, which can take more time. Hight said that the artists used to have to build armor for various body shapes, including horns, snouts, and tails, adding it was “just not particularly fun work for them.” “We have used machine learning to help do things that people either can’t do or it’s very cumbersome to do,” Hight said.

“…A few years ago, we said, ‘Can we use machine learning to help at least get it to a point where 90% of the work is being done for them and then they can fine tune it?’ And we went about that. It’s actually worked out really well. It’s allowed us to make a lot more different armor. The artists love it because it’s like, ‘Oh, thank God you got rid of the grungy part of what we’re doing.'”

The franchise director continues, saying that NPC AI has also greatly improved and has supported the MMO’s starting zone Exile’s Reach. He adds that the team is using the tool to now work on a new feature called Delves for the upcoming expansion The War Within, but clarifies that Blizzard isn’t using generative AI in any way.

Hight says that he’s the son of an aeronautical engineer and a fine artist so he has an appreciation for the creative process. “I think the artists on the team have a fear that the AI will be deployed to take them out of a job and they certainly don’t want their work to be used without their permission or without credit or whatever else, and so I think we’re all sorting that out,” he said. “The rights issues, the how far do we use this technology, but we’re not using it. We’re not using generative AI within WoW.”

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