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The Finals dev has a very strange response to outrage over its use of AI voices

"Making games without actors isn’t an end goal for Embark."

After drawing criticism online over The Finals using AI voice performances, developer Embark Studios has defended the decision.

Last week, a tweet showing off some of the voice acting in The Finals made it seem like the game used AI voices, which was confirmed through a podcast interview with one of the game's audio designers. Embark Studios has now provided a statement to IGN where it defended the use of AI, and tried to explain how it uses it. "We use a combination of recorded voice audio and audio generated via TTS tools in our games, depending on the context," a spokesperson told IGN.

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"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."

Sure, being able to work quickly is great and all, but if you just listen to the AI voices, you can clearly hear how awkward and jarring the performances are.

Up until now, Embark said that most of the voice overs were "AI with a few exceptions," but in its statement to IGN, it clarified how much real people are involved. "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."

The AI being based on real voices isn't the issue though - the software takes away work from actual voice actors, as you can just keep using an AI voice without having to pay the original actor for their work. AI performances are also something SAG-AFTA is currently striking over, and is a major concern video game voice actors have as it directly threatens their livelihoods.

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Oisin Kuhnke avatar

Oisin Kuhnke

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Oisin is a non-binary writer based in the UK with bylines in Polygon, Fanbyte, Uppercut, Rock Paper Shotgun, GameSpot, and many more besides.
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