Hellblade 2

In good news for voice actors across the industry, Hellblade developer Ninja Theory has confirmed that it will not replace human voice actors with AI technology in their future titles.

For a bit of context, a recent report examined Altered AI, a company that promises to enable developers to “create compelling, professional voice performances” with AI, without having to use human voice actors. According to the company, this technology allows developers to submit a recording of a line with the proper inflection, and the tech produces a performance to be used in the game.

Ninja Theory was among the developers listed as using the technology, prompting fears that their upcoming games will prioritise AI voice actors over actual flesh-and-blood humans.

Thankfully, the developer has explained that this is not the case – taking to Twitter to explain that it is using the tech for “placeholder content,” and that they would still be working with human voice actors for the final product.

“For clarity, we use this AI tech for placeholder content only to help us understand things like timing and placement in early phases of development,” said the developer. “We then collaborate with real actors whose performances are at the heart of bringing our stories to life.”

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Credit: Ninja Theory.

It’s certainly good news, as automated voice acting becomes more popular in the entertainment industry. Perhaps the most recent high-profile example of this is Luke Skywalker’s appearance in The Mandalorian, as series creator Jon Favreau revealed that technology was used to replicate actor Mark Hamill’s voice.

It remains to be seen how this technology might affect the games industry. While using it for placeholder assets certainly seems like a harmless benefit for developers, voice actors are sure to be concerned that the technology could be used to put them out of work.

Elsewhere in gaming, ‘Return to Monkey Island’ features a cameo from Naughty Dog’s Neil Druckmann, the latest in an affectionate back and forth between the developers.

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