Does the future of mobile games lie in machine learning?


Not long ago, I came across a YouTube video about an exciting new development. Researchers at NVIDIA enabled an AI to essentially recreate PAC-MAN after watching some 50,000 episodes of the game being played. The blog post makes for fascinating reading and it made me think more about the potential machine learning could have for mobile game development.

Machine learning is a fast growing industry that is expected to reach $96.7bn by 2025, according to Grand View Research. Furthermore, recent research by Market Research Future indicates it is expected to grow by around "42.08% CAGR during the forecast period 2018–2024". A lot of reporting done by media outlets such as Forbes have highlighted potential growth in areas such as driver safety, internet security, applications in the financial market et al. 

What about mobile gaming, though? Machine learning is already being used by companies in this space to improve monetisation (helping to create personalised in-game offers, for example), but I think there are some exciting applications for machine learning still to come:
  • Rapid prototyping: train an AI to watch gameplay of say, hypercasual games, and feed in art and music to create prototypes of new games quickly and efficiently. You could easily create multiple variations if needed.
  • Crowd-sourced games: Imagine a social media site where game ideas are submitted. The most popular ideas are turned into games there and then.
  • Personalised 'Netflix for mobile games': Don't like the guns in your mobile FPS? Imagine a service where game assets are personalised on the fly. You could have games to play wherever you want them, how you want them. 
  • New gift idea: this idea of intimate personalisation opens up the market for personalised mobile games as gifts. You could give someone a platformer, for example, just the way they like it, with their own ideas incorporated in it. 
With the emergence of this technology, it could also challenge existing business models and relationships between developers and publishers may change. How will it work if prototypes can be quickly made without too much human intervention? Will developers be paid per successful idea? Will everything be dependent on great art or music? 

There are exciting and challenging times ahead and the games that emerge from this period will reflect that. 

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