Controversial The Finals AI use “isn’t an end goal” for the shooter

Embark Studios issues a The Finals AI update, but doesn't back down from using the controversial technology in the popular FPS game.

The Finals AI update: a man with a pink wall behind them with gold coins showering around them

The Finals uses AI voices instead of real ones. It came to light this week that Embark Studios, the developer behind the new multiplayer FPS that’s blowing up on Steam, is using AI voice technology for it’s player characters over real voice actors, and the industry was not having it. Now, a spokesperson from Embark has addressed the criticism, saying that “making games without actors isn’t an end goal” for the team.

Earlier this week Embark audio designer Andreas Almström said on a podcast that The Finals uses AI voices “with a few exceptions,” like the team recording their own grunts. This revelation brought a wave of negativity to The Finals, as videogame industry voice actors, performance capture professionals, and many more criticized the FPS game for the lack of voice quality and, more importantly, taking work away from real people.

“We use a combination of recorded voice audio and audio generated via TTS (text-to-speech) tools in our games, depending on the context,” Embark tells 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.”

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When Embark says that it adds depth that technology can’t emulate, it appears that the studio is waiting for AI tools to catch up before all voiced audio is generated, as Almström said “We can’t really get the AI to perform those kinds of tasks yet.”

The overall reliance on AI tools for The Finals has been somewhat walked back now though, as the studio adds that “In the instances we use TTS in The Finals, it’s always based on real voices.

“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.”

This leads me to believe that Embark has paid real voice actors for audio and then ran that through AI tools to essentially use it on a loop forever, which is something many are kicking back against. In Hollywood for example, the practice of studios scanning actors and using their digital doubles whenever they want has emerged as a new trend – and that’s been met with equal criticism.

There’s no word yet if the professional actors Embark mentioned get any sort of residuals for their voices being continually used as AI, or what type of contracts they were offered.