Earlier in the month, during an interview with Sega Asia, the Persona series producer Kazuhisa Wada expressed interest in using AI-generated art during the initial development phases of future Atlus games. The relevant quote follows below.
As for what I’m interested in, the progress of AI has been quite intriguing. I think the technology behind AI illustrations will be very useful in the future. For example, when coming up with rough ideas, an AI can continuously output one idea after another, something that a single artist might struggle with. So I think that for early concept and idea formation, we could use AI right away. Our art team has been talking about wanting to implement AI.
The irony is almost delicious. For the uninitiated, Persona 5 has an entire hours-long section of the game devoted to a villain stealing and profiting from art. Now, personally, I don’t see too much of an issue with AI art when it’s used solely for personal fun. For example, the current flood of using AI-generated voices to read public domain books. However, I have issues with how AIs are trained on existing art for commercial use. Notice the similarities to the story Atlus made? Right now, there’s a lawsuit filed in the United States against AI creators for that exact reason. But the case is still in its infancy and may take years to resolve. With that in mind, it genuinely will be a landmark case for the future of AI.
Reactions on Twitter are all over the place, and the irony was not lost on fans. Some fans are defending the decision, while others are disappointed. Atlus is one of those companies with a cult following, so we’ll see how this plays out. While I have plenty of issues with modern Atlus and its games, I admit freely that their art and music are some of the best in the video game industry. The amount of effort poured into the designs for the upcoming Persona 5 gacha game is proof of that. This implementation of AI may help speed up development. But it could put some hard-working artists out of a job in an already tough market for an exhausting industry. A tricky situation, to be sure.