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John Riccitiello is excited about AI enough to sit down with Aldora.io’s Joost van Dreunen and chat about it at the GamesBeat Summit. Riccitiello’s history of accurate bets on technology is enough to make you want to pay attention.
“I remember the last time I was super excited about the future when a technology had hit,” said Riccitiello. “That was the internet. I thought the internet was going to be a really big thing. Right now, I will tell you I am very excited about AI.”
Riccitiello, during his time at Electronic Arts, was confident the Dreamcast didn’t have legs. He was right. More recently, he didn’t see the bright future in things like Web3, blockchain or the Metaverse others were painting. According to him, he could see the individual parts but didn’t believe they fit together quite right to lead towards any kind of industry sea change.
“This doesn’t make me incredibly smart,” said Riccitiello. “It makes me a student of history. I could see the ingredients weren’t there.”
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Student of history or not, Riccitiello’s been right. A lot. So the fact that he’s excited about AI is truly noteworthy. Those other things? They’ll find their legs, eventually. AI, at least in Riccitiello’s eyes, is something that can change the world.
It shows in his work at Unity, too. Despite multiple rounds of layoffs, Unity is generating profits as a public company — and is using AI to do it. Riccitiello sees a huge use case for AI. He believes AI will become a huge part of content creation in general.
He also believes that AI will expand the games industry in an absolutely massive way, similar to how the internet did and how mobile gaming did.
Unity’s Project Barracuda
Unity is already working on it. Unity’s Project Barracuda is over half a decade in the making. The big problem with generative AI right now, at least as a customer, is just that. You have to be a customer. It’s all a little bit pricey, which is a huge barrier to entry.
Project Barracuda is trying to solve that by loading everything directly onto your devices. If everything is happening locally, you don’t need to pay for a service. The runtime that Project Barracuda uses is already massively widespread – it’s on over 4 billion devices globally, according to Riccitiello.
It, and other kinds of generative AI, are what will entirely change and shift the landscape of the games industry. Despite the high hopes Riccitiello has, he’s clear on one thing. No matter how useful AI is right now, it isn’t a replacement for actual human effort.
“Let’s be clear,” Riccitiello said. “No one produces final code in one shot. Or frankly, art that’s worthy. It still takes a lot of iteration.”
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