Embark Studios, the developer behind the recently launched open beta for the highly anticipated game The Finals, has addressed criticism surrounding its use of AI-generated voices within the game. The studio’s approach has sparked controversy, drawing both acclaim and reproach from players and industry professionals alike. In a recent statement provided exclusively to IGN, Embark shed light on its development philosophy, emphasizing its intention to incorporate a blend of recorded human voices and cutting-edge text-to-speech (TTS) technology in its games, depending on the specific context.
According to the studio spokesperson, “making games without actors isn’t an end goal,” underscoring the nuanced interplay between traditional voice acting and AI-generated alternatives. They highlighted the significance of genuine performances in shaping character dynamics and narrative depth, acknowledging the inherent limitations of technology in fully replicating the emotional intricacies derived from human interaction.
Embracing technology while preserving authenticity
Elaborating on their innovative process, the spokesperson clarified that their creative methodology involves a synergistic fusion of authentic human performances and the expediency offered by TTS solutions for in-game action call-outs. “Sometimes, recording real scenes where actors get together allows character chemistry and conflict to shape the outcome,” the spokesperson affirmed, underscoring the irreplaceable value of human contribution in certain storytelling contexts. Conversely, they noted that TTS technology facilitates tailored voiceovers, particularly for swift and efficient implementation where conventional recording processes might be impractical or time-consuming.
Addressing concerns over AI dominance and actor representation
The controversy emerged following a snippet from Embark’s Meet the Makers dev podcast, where a revelation about the predominant use of AI voices in The Finals sparked a heated discussion within the gaming community. In response, Embark clarified that all instances of text-to-speech voice in The Finals are “always based on real voices,” with a mix of professional voice actors and placeholder recordings from within the studio’s team featured prominently in the open beta.
While reaffirming its commitment to a symbiotic relationship between traditional voice acting and technological advancements, the studio highlighted the collaborative opportunities afforded by TTS technology. “Making games without actors isn’t an end goal for Embark, and TTS technology has introduced new ways for us to work together,” the statement concluded, emphasizing their dedication to integrating innovative tools without overshadowing the vital contribution of human talent.
The incorporation of AI-generated voices in video games has emerged as a contentious issue, leading to ongoing negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and key industry players. The use of AI technology in place of human actors has become a pivotal concern, prompting discussions on the future of voice acting and motion capture performances within the rapidly evolving landscape of interactive entertainment. As the gaming industry grapples with the implications of AI integration, the delicate balance between technological progress and the preservation of artistic authenticity continues to fuel critical debates within the gaming community and beyond.