The Finals developer Embark Studios has responded to criticism from voice actors and developers after it was slammed for using AI voice overs in its hit shooter.
The studio said “making games without actors isn’t an end goal” and claimed it uses a mix of both recorded audio voices and audio generated via AI text to speech (TTS) tools for its games.
“We use a combination of recorded voice audio and audio generated via TTS tools in our games, depending on the context,” an Embark spokesperson told IGN.
“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.”
The studio previously said it uses “AI with a few exceptions”, with those being the random grunts and breathing noises the AI TTS tools can’t create yet. Embark said in July these sounds are recorded by the normal developers and not paid voice actors though, as they’re “something we use us in the studio to record, just grunting”.
The developer has now walked back these comments, however, saying the open beta uses a mix of professional voice actors and temporary voices from Embark employees.
“In the instances we use TTS in The Finals, it’s always based on real voices,” the spokesperson said. “In the open beta, it is based on a mix of professional voice actors and temporary voices 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 use of AI over actors has been an incredibly controversial topic, coming at the centre of Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strikes and being criticised by several industry people.
Video game voice actors previously called out AI-generated explicit Skyrim mods, and Assassin’s Creed Syndicate voice actress Victoria Atkin called AI-generated mods the “invisible enemy we’re fighting right now” after discovering her voice was used by cloning software. Paul Eiding, the voice actor behind Colonel Campbell in the Metal Gear Solid series, also condemned its use.
Genshin Impact, Dying Light, and Ghostrunner 2’s Kit Harrison also slammed Embark on X/Twitter. “What really sticks with me is that they needed to bring in real actors to get the grunting, effort, and breathing sounds because the AI can’t do it,” the voice actor said. “It can’t replicate the noise that I make when I stand up from my chair, but it wants to take my job? Don’t make me laugh.”
The developer’s comments were also criticised by Elsie Lovelock, who appears in Baldur’s Gate 3, Wargroove, and more. “The kicker is, it still sounds like crap regardless of how realistic they think it sounds,” she said on X/Twitter.
The Finals’ use of AI certainly hasn’t made the game any less popular, with its open beta clocking a peak of 267,874 concurrent players on Steam in its first weekend available, according to data from SteamDB. Created by ex-DICE developers who worked on the Battlefield series, the team-based first person shooter even hit its player capacity within a few days.
In our preview of the game, IGN said: “The Finals is a fast-paced first-person shooter that focuses on arcadey game styles and game-show mechanics. What makes it unique is that everything, and I mean everything, can be destroyed. It’s a lot to take in, but after playing a bunch of it, all of the elements manage to work really well together when the game isn’t stuttery and buggy.”
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelance reporter. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.
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Author: Ryan Dinsdale