The Finals Dev Defends AI Voices, Says It’s Not Trying To Replace Humans

The Finals developer Embark Studios has responded to criticism over its use of AI-generated voices in its free-to-play shooter, saying it isn’t looking to make games without voice actors, IGN reports.

Embark recently launched an open beta for The Finals, and while the beta has been popular enough that players have had to queue for a spot, the studio also came under fire from fans and professional voice actors for its obvious use of AI-generated voices.

Now Playing: The Finals – Open Beta Trailer

In a statement sent to IGN, Embark said that “making games without actors isn’t an end goal.” A spokesperson elaborated on the studio’s process, saying: “We use a combination of recorded voice audio and audio generated via TTS tools in our games, depending on the context.

“Sometimes, recording real scenes where actors get together–allowing character chemistry and conflict to shape the outcome–is something that adds depth to our game worlds that technology can’t emulate. Other times, especially when it relates to contextual in-game action call-outs, TTS allows us to have tailored voice over where we otherwise wouldn’t, for example due to speed of implementation.”

Embark have previously claimed that The Finals’ voice overs are mainly AI, as demonstrated in a snippet of Embark’s Meet The Makers dev podcast that was shared by voice actor Gianni Matragrano. In the clip, one of the game’s audio designers identified only as Andreas says that the game uses AI voices “with a few exceptions,” and identifies those exceptions as grunting or breathing noises that the AI is currently unable to mimic.

In its statement on the topic, Embark clarified that all instances of text-to-speech voice in The Finals are “always based on real voices,” with the voices in the open beta a mix of professional voice actors and placeholder work from Embark employees. “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 concludes.

The use of AI-generated voices in video games is currently a controversial topic. Actor’s union SAG-AFTRA is in the midst of negotiations with a number of major industry players on behalf of its voice actors and mocap performers, with AI one of the hot issues at hand.

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