EA is going all in on generative AI, will train models on 40 years of EA game data

EA CEO Andrew Wilson says developers have a 'real hunger' for generative AI, so expect the next Battlefield to include some form of AI.

2 minutes & 24 seconds read time

During a recent earnings call, EA CEO Andrew Wilson said that the publisher's developers and studios have a "real hunger" for generative AI. The company is looking to use the new technology to make game development more efficient and to deliver big and complex games quickly.

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"As a company, we've been deeply tied to AI since our inception," Andrew Wilson said. "It has been the very center of all of the games that we create, replicating human intelligence in the context of a gameplay experience. But certainly, as we think about the wave of generative AI today and as it merges into artificial general intelligence, broadly, we're still very early."

Citing FIFA as an example, using the game's animation and run cycles - this grew from 36 run cycles in FIFA 23 to 1,200 run cycles in EA Sports FC 24. The result is a more realistic-looking depiction of football/soccer and one that feels closer to watching the sport live on TV than the series has ever been.

"The first pillar of generative AI for us, we're really looking at how can it make us more efficient, how can it give our developers more power," Wilson adds. Creating realistic depictions of stadiums is one area where AI has already helped the studio speed up the process - with the time it takes to make one decreasing from 6 months to 6 weeks.

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"How can [AI] give our developers more power?" Wilson muses. "How can it give them back more time and allow them to get to the fun more quickly? How do we build bigger worlds with more characters and more interesting storylines?" The plan, it seems, is to train generative AI on 40 years of EA games to assist in everything from level design to storytelling and the creation of characters, with EA planning to ramp up its generative AI usage over the course of one, three, and five years.

Andrew Wilson clarified that the technology is still new, but he sees generative AI becoming integral to EA and its games in three to five years. "Perhaps on a 5+ year time horizon, [...] we can get new, interesting, innovative, and different game experiences. Not to replace what we do but to augment, enhance, extend, [and] expand the nature of what interactive entertainment can be."

"If efficiency starts to really take place over the next 1-3 years, our expectation is that, over a 3 to 5-year time horizon, we will be able to, as part of our massive online communities and blockbuster storytelling, build bigger, more immersive worlds that engage more players uniquely around the world," Wilson adds. "One of the great advantages, of course, we have is we do have 40 years of data."

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Andrew Wilson believes that due to EA's size and history, it's in a unique position to develop and train generative AI tools with decades of data. This could accelerate the process and lead to transformative generative AI in games sooner than the current 5-year timeline. At the very least, it sounds like the next Battlefield game will be developed with the aid of one or more generative AI-powered tools.

"There is a real hunger amongst our developers to get to this as quickly as possible," Wilson concludes. "The holy grail for us is to build bigger, more innovative, more creative, more fun games more quickly so that we can entertain more people around the world on a global basis at a faster rate."

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Kosta is a veteran gaming journalist that cut his teeth on well-respected Aussie publications like PC PowerPlay and HYPER back when articles were printed on paper. A lifelong gamer since the 8-bit Nintendo era, it was the CD-ROM-powered 90s that cemented his love for all things games and technology. From point-and-click adventure games to RTS games with full-motion video cut-scenes and FPS titles referred to as Doom clones. Genres he still loves to this day. Kosta is also a musician, releasing dreamy electronic jams under the name Kbit.

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