99% of players are excited about the potential of intelligent NPCs powered by advanced artificial intelligence

With advances in generative AI heralding new potential for multiple industries, a new report from Inworld AI finds that the majority of gamers are craving NPCs in video games for more personality

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Inworld AI, a developer platform for advanced NPC behavior and dialogue, today released the results of its new Gamer Attitudes to NPCs report. In the first study of its kind, the report surveyed over 1,000 gamers in the US aged 16 to 50 and found a high level of excitement about the potential of AI in video games. In particular, there was an overwhelming consensus that recent advances in AI could change the face of gaming, ushering in a new era of immersion and interaction with NPCs (non-playable characters) with individual personalities and the ability to voice oneself unscripted Voice entertaining using ChatGPT-like language models and multimodal behavioral and perceptual systems.

The report revealed the following:

● 84% of players agree that current NPCs have a positive impact on gameplay

● More than half (52%) dislike repetitive NPC dialogue

● 76% would like NPCs with better situational awareness

● 78% would spend more time playing games with advanced AI NPCs

● 81% would be willing to pay more for a game with advanced AI NPCs

Long (not) come

NPCs have been a part of video games since the 1970s. Despite significant technological advances in motion capture, graphics rendering, animation, and modeling, the technology driving NPC behavior has stagnated. In other words, NPCs didn’t develop personalities of their own or the ability to react to players unscripted. This is despite the fact that, according to the report, 84% of gamers today believe NPCs are a crucial addition to gameplay and play an important role in building compelling stories and worlds.

Meaningful interaction fosters enthusiasm and loyalty…

The report emphasized the importance of narrative and storylines for the majority of gamers. Meaningful interactions with NPCs were in high demand, with only 9% of players dismissing or avoiding NPCs altogether during gameplay. A large minority (40%) even admitted to talking to as many NPCs as possible to unlock more story content. Likewise, 91% interacted with NPCs at some level and 78% said they would spend more time playing a game with “smart” NPCs.

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Kylan Gibbs, co-founder and CPO of Inworld AI said, “Humans are storytellers. We are drawn to narratives that help us make sense of the world around us. The same goes for the gaming world – the more immersive and believable a story is, the more we want to stay in it. So it’s really no surprise that so many players want to unlock deeper stories through these NPC interactions.”

…and poor quality encourages frustration and ridicule

While trolling is most prevalent among younger gamers (39% of 16-24 year olds trolling NPCs), it was evident across all age groups that gamers willingly and regularly watch NPCs do “stupid” things – especially if the characters were two-dimensional and poor quality. The typical NPC traits least liked by players were: repetitive dialogue, walking in circles, and inability to adapt to changes in games (disliked by 52%, 33%, and 30% of players, respectively) . Other traits like clumsy movements and lack of variation also contributed to their breakup with NPCs.

A missed opportunity for artificial intelligence

Despite these frustrations, however, only a tiny minority (5%) consider current NPCs to be pointless. “Gamers are very interested in NPCs,” Kylan continued. “They have a huge impact on gameplay, but players are frustrated that they haven’t progressed. With advanced AI NPCs, there is an opportunity for games to offer players more of the immersive and realistic NPC interactions that players want.”

A large majority (76%) would like NPCs to have better situational awareness, and 60% would like more interactive dialogue and a sense of humor. Being able to understand and respond to these requirements proved to be an appealing concept for almost all of the gamers surveyed. The report found that 79% of respondents said they were excited about the promises made by AI NPCs, with 88% believing they would make a game more immersive. Additionally, 99% believe the inclusion of advanced AI NPCs would have a positive impact on gameplay and 81% are willing to pay for the experience.

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Florin Radu, Head of Partnerships, concluded: “Advancements in AI have real potential to bring NPCs to life and revolutionize the way players interact with them. At Inworld, we use this technology to make NPCs smarter and more interactive, enriching the game stories and making the gameplay more immersive. It’s no surprise that players are excited about the opportunity to have a unique experience with NPCs every time they play – and we think that excitement will lead to many more developers including advanced AI NPCs joining the game will be their games in the near future.”

Gamer Attitudes to NPCs 2023 can be downloaded here https://inworld.ai/whitepapers/future-of-npcs

Notes for editors:

A survey of 1,002 US gamers aged 16 to 50 was conducted in October and November 2022 by Bryter Research on behalf of Inworld AI using an online questionnaire. Participants were randomly selected from a group of online players. The aim of the study was to examine gaming behavior and attitudes towards NPCs within the specified age group.

Examples of qualitative data:

“I think they are an important part of world building. I always try to talk to every NPC I can reach. They can offer tips, provide side quests, have items for sale, can be entertaining, and help present the lore of a game or series.” – Female, 28 years old

“I like that you can really interact and get real-time answers to your questions and interactions. That would really add depth and richness to the games.” – Female, 38 years old

“I love playing RPGs and MMORPGs, but prefer player-versus-environment to player-versus-player and enjoy interacting with NPCs more than random players. Advanced AI NPCs would definitely make me more emotionally attached to RPGs and make them more enjoyable! ” – Female, 50 years old

“As a hobby game developer, I really like the concept of advanced AI NPCs. The interactive elements of this are pretty amazing and this could completely change the way NPCs are created. Open worlds/MMOs and even roguelikes would benefit greatly from this. ” – Male, 37 years old

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“I like that the dialogue isn’t scripted. Advanced AI NPCs are more like real characters and responsive to the world around them. I would like to be able to interact with an AI version of Lamar from GTA 5. I think he would have some hilarious and funny answers to all the questions I asked.” – Male, 24 years old

“NPCs can either make or break a game by adding or detracting from the game’s immersion and believability. When I play, I literally immerse myself in my character’s world and make decisions based on what my character would think of situations, places, and the people they meet – including NPCs.” – Non-binary, 23 years old

“Fallout 4 is a great game, but the dialogue options for companion characters were terrible and repetitive.” – Male, 44 years old

“Animal Crossing lacks diverse dialogue options and leaves the game dull and boring with any character archetype.” – Male, 22 years old

“I like to take their money and hunt them down. Usually they run away and I catch up with them, beat them up and take their money. It makes Grand Theft Auto even more fun.” – Male, 27 years old

About the inworld AI

Inworld is a developer platform for adding advanced NPC behavior and dialogue to games and real-time experiences. We use over 20 AI models to create lifelike, engaging, and expressive characters that mimic the dynamic nature of human interaction.

Inworld is led by a team of experts and pioneers in conversational AI, generative models and the gaming and entertainment industry. The founders of Inworld previously launched API.AI, which was renamed Dialogflow after being acquired by Google. Inworld’s Chief Creative Officer, Academy Award winner John Gaeta, brings awakening through his work on the Matrix films, his role in founding Lucasfilm’s Immersive Entertainment division and as Executive Creative Producer on Epic Games’ The Matrix.

The inworld team of engineers, designers, inventors, creatives, scientists and technologists are developing the technology that will revolutionize NPCs.

Charlie Eaton
+44 (0) 7912 345895
[email protected]

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