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How AI could impact the licensing and consumer products industries

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI), especially generative AI (GenAI), into the creative, digital, and consumer products industries, signifies a transformative shift. Dr. Richard Wilson OBE, ceo of TIGA, looks at the nuanced impact of these technologies, with a focus on intellectual property, licensing, and skill sets.

The promise and challenges presented by AI have been felt keenly in the games industry, where the advent of GenAI in particular could significantly impact development processes and player experiences.

TIGA’s own recent Business Opinion Survey underscored the industry’s anticipation, with studios predicting significant impacts from GenAI (37%) and AI (31%) on their operations this year.

These technologies are poised to redefine creativity, operational efficiencies and engagement strategies – not just in games, but for all creative/digital and consumer products industries, especially in the realms of intellectual property, licensing and skills.

Opportunities in Game Development and Player Experience

Generative AI potentially heralds a new era of digital content production, offering automation of various aspects of the development process. This automation could lead to substantial cost reductions and time savings, allowing studios to allocate more resources towards creative endeavours. The implications for game design and development are profound, as they are in other creative industries, with studios leveraging GenAI to streamline workflows and enhance content creation.

Moreover, GenAI could significantly improve the player experience. It could enable, for example, the creation of more diverse and ‘character rich’ non-playable characters (NPCs), deepening the narrative and immersive qualities of games. These advancements promise to elevate player engagement and satisfaction, showcasing the potential of AI to enhance the storytelling and interactivity of game environments. It easy to see how these techniques could be used in non-game IP creation too.

DrRichardWilsonTIGA500x500Navigating Intellectual Property and Legal Frameworks

However, alongside the opportunities there are both challenges and concerns. One of the most prominent is that the adoption of AI tools in content creation greatly increases the risk of infringing third-party IP.

The ability to own, protect and monetise IP remains a cornerstone for studios, guiding their engagement with AI technologies. As such, it is important to both embrace innovation and respect IP laws. We need to ensure that the use of GenAI supports creative expansion, while safeguarding legal and ethical standards.

Traditional IP laws are built around human authorship, leaving a grey area when AI autonomously creates content. This raises questions about copyright and the rights of AI creators versus users.

Strategic Implications for Creative Industries

The economic landscape for games studios is intricately tied to the management of IP rights. By leveraging AI for certain production processes, studios can allocate more resources towards creative output, potentially leading to a richer and more diverse portfolio. At the same time, the imperative to navigate IP concerns with AI-generated content underscores the need for robust legal frameworks and industry guidelines.

There’s also debate about the authenticity of AI-created art and whether it can truly be considered ‘creative’, whether it’s used in a game or on a t-shirt. This ties into broader ethical concerns about the role of machines in cultural production.

And finally, while AI can assist creators, some fear that it might replace human roles, leading to job displacement in some sectors – as highlighted by last year’s Hollywood writers’ strike. Alternatively, AI could free up time for creators and create new job opportunities.

Fostering dialogue among stakeholders across the digital, creative and consumer products industries is critically important. Collaborative efforts to explore AI’s implications, coupled with strategic initiatives to educate, prepare and protect the workforce, are essential in navigating the future of game development and other creative industries.

Dr Richard Wilson OBE is ceo of TIGA, the non-profit trade association representing the UK’s games industry. Its members include independent games developers, in-house publisher-owned developers, outsourcing companies, technology businesses and universities.

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