Artificial intelligence technology promises in the near future to transform every aspect of our lives from work to play. AI will undoubtedly also play a vital role in driving the popularity of esports, which according to a recent Newzoo report is expected to have an annual growth rate of an impressive 14 percent by 2021.
The proof is in the numbers. Last year, people watched 6.6 billion hours of esports content while an estimated 56 thousand live channels were also broadcasting content. It is an immense market with the potential of attracting business owners and a vast amount of capital. This has opened the door to AI.
Much like a regular sports organization, many different components need to come together in order to create a successful esports environment. Studios develop games for publishers. The latter can create its own league and tournaments or choose to delegate these. Leagues and tournaments need sponsors in order to ensure financial stability and consistent product delivery to customers with in-person events or broadcasting. To strive for success, they also need teams with their own sponsors and players. Computer parts and peripherals companies are also a part of the industry. The final consumer is the viewer, who can buy merchandise, event tickets, or watch content online.
Connections are the foundation of esports. Through optimizing these relationships, an immense value is being created for everyone involved in the esports industry. There are a lot of tools that can be used to achieve this result. However, in my opinion, the most important one is AI. With 11 ways AI can improve the esports business, this article will show you how powerful this technology can prove to be. Real-life examples will be used to illustrate each one.
First, in the emerging esports industry, teams and players are looking at sponsorships as a huge revenue source. Although many options are already available, teams may not know how to properly get these endorsements. They need to consider a lot of things to make the right decision such as the impact on social networks, values reflected or even just notoriety. Artificial intelligence can help these actors improve their ability to attract sponsors.
For example, FanAI is a company that developed a solution that is working for both the sponsors and sponsored. By gathering a huge amount of data on potential teams or players, they allow for more transparency. Companies wanting to sponsor a team or a player need relevant audience information for decision-making. FanAI can drastically improve their content mediums in unusual ways. Companies will have transparency, teams will get a new way to reach viewers and customers will have a more satisfying experience. AI can provide an easier and more streamlined solution for finding sponsorship.
Teams Picking Players
Because of esports’ rising popularity, many new teams are being created. Yet without a proper scouting team or report, it is difficult to really evaluate the performance of individual players. These days, there are various ways to fool people into thinking that a player is better than they actually are. The high current turnover rates in esports indicates that a viable solution is needed to lower the rate of scouting mistakes and to maximize rentability. As in the movie “Moneyball”, there might be some talent that needs a little bit of nurturing, but their potential is still overlooked.
For example, using Rival AI could be one of the solutions required to solve this issue. This company created an AI that can analyze video input in order to gather all kinds of useful data including, scouting reports for players, teams and betting companies. By using machine learning, they will provide any company with the relevant pieces of information they need. Ranking players can be achieved with such assets and esports teams can employ this technology to best assess the talents among a list of players on similar levels. This will also raise the overall performance level of leagues and tournaments because it will gather the better players available.
A higher level of team and player performance will lead to championship titles and new fans. However, when players are already at the top of their game, it is difficult to find new ways to break through limits. Even with specific coaches, new peripherals, and strategies, there may not appear to be much room to improve. AI can spot flaws in a player’s or team’s strategy, skills or approach that others might miss. Using this technology promised to shed new light on an esports player’s skills. It can be like having another coach, but one with access to all the data and history of esports players, teams, and tournaments.
SenpAI has been created to deliver on this promise. After analyzing some of the most talented esports players, this program can learn from their patterns and habits. It is common known that pro esports players create their own style. By using machine learning, this AI can provide new and veteran players with strategies on how to improve upon their performances. Developing stronger players will improve team performances and enable leagues, tournaments, and games to continue to prosper.
The most important goal in broadcasting is understanding your audience’s needs. Creating a perfect program for your viewers requires many years of experiences and failures. AI can also be a key player here in analyzing the viewer’s needs and patterns in order to successfully create shows to attract increased interest.
Advertising Accelerator AI from IBM Watson gathers data to predict what elements in the broadcasting creative process will generate the most benefits. This technology will also follow your previous and new experiences. In this case, tournaments and leagues using it will get new insights on how to reach new audiences thanks to a few tweaks in their content creation. Sponsors will welcome a more effective platform and their viewers will also benefit from it.
Creating New Strategies with AI
AI can also help games reach new heights. By feeding an AI solution millions of hours of professional play and letting them play the games without restraints, they will be able to create new breakthrough gaming strategies. Professional players could learn from this and adapt their playing styles in order to break their previous limitations.
Alphastar AI from Deepmind perfectly illustrates this point. By training against itself, this AI improved its level of play drastically. In Starcraft II, it has already achieved GrandMaster rank. Right now, the machine should be able to win against 99.8 percent of all humans. The final goal of this battle against itself is to spot weaknesses in strategies and work toward improving upon those. There are a lot of teams that already rely on an AI-generated playbook for their strategies.
As content distribution is an entirely online process, it can definitely be optimized by AI including, pictures, articles, and video editing. Despite having a human team dedicated to this task, you could just rely on this technology to handle the job. AI will make some self-improvements along the way to match evolving needs from customers.
Blizzard Entertainment is a wonderful example to showcase this. They are currently in the process of using AI to create a completely new online content strategy. This includes eventually using this AI to automatically create clips from esports broadcasts and upload those to social media. Right now, editing is done manually but they hope to also delegate this task to their AI program soon.
Interaction with Communities
Similarly, AI will influence a shift in community interaction. People will no longer go to their computers just to find esports content to watch, merchandise to order or communities to engage in. By having AI, you can add a homogeneous and carefully managed customer service option.
Amelia, from IPsoft, appears to match such requirements. By recognizing complex as well as natural languages, intent, and context, Amelia can effectively answer your requests. It is so much more than a mere chatbot that solves pre-programmed problems. After all, the Everest group grants it the name of the “most intelligent virtual agent.”
Artificial Intelligence Tournaments
AI is already in the game and can add a new interesting layer to esports tournaments to attract more players and fans. AI tournaments like this can be held in order to explore new ways of playing games.
In 2011, Comenius University in Slovakia created an AI tournament for its students. After a few years, this contest caught the eyes of Blizzard and has become one of three major AI tournaments for its game, Blood War. AI can take on the role of inspiring human players to expand their skills. This approach can cultivate talented individuals who already have a passion for esports or can even create new fans of the industry. In the future, these talents will allow the esports industry to reach a whole new level.
Hardware and Peripherals
Computer parts and peripheral creators can tap AI as leverage to increase income and profits. Players can use computer gear that will learn their habits. This can lead to players refocusing on honing and improving their gaming skills.
Roccat tried something similar with their Kone gaming mouse. AI Motion technology adapts to your gaming habits and makes decisions based on them. It is only in its infancy, but there are limitless possibilities in the near future.
One could easily imagine something like macro-keys changing from one round to another or sensitivity switching when scoping down weapons. And this is just for keyboards and mouses. Headsets could also obviously take advantage of an AI that will predict ambient noises were an enemy in a game will come from. With the current state of the market, there is a lot of room for growth.
Better Competitive Titles
AI can, of course, be used by editors and game developers to make their titles more exciting and thrilling. Creating esports titles without bug exploits and more stability can bring a whole new audience. Players could also use AI to discover more about the game.
In this case, Apex Utility AI should be considered. This is a tool that can assist with your decision-making process in things such as level design or determining an enemy’s defeated condition. It will generate a lot of different scenarios, rate them and choose the best results available. By being light and easy to maneuver, game developers can now focus on important matters such as stability and making sure that everyone can play their games on any platform
Moderating and Anti-cheat
Undoubtedly, in esports, as with other sports, cheating is an ongoing problem. Not only does it ruin one’s game reputation, but it also creates an environment that lacks credibility and trust. We all know that anti-cheat software on some games lacks effectiveness. You can find many online tutorials for downloading cheating tools. When players hear about an esports player caught for cheating, there is a huge backlash that can only damage esports’ reputation and credibility.
Former CS:GO professional 2eggs developed HestiaNet in order to prevent cheaters from invading his favorite game. Game developers, even with Valve’s anti-cheat system like Overwatch, can not handle all of the reports being made by players around the globe. This technology uses 2eggs’ account to review Overwatch reports and decide, with its reinforced learning, if cheating occurred. HestiaNet has already enabled the banning of more than forty thousand players. By using this form of AI, esports will become a more trustworthy and credible environment for all participants.
A Virtuous Circle of AI
AI is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be… unnatural. Every part of esports will be impacted by AI, including player performance, marketing, broadcasting, game environment or communication. All participants in this industry will use AI to upgrade their relationships with one another. They will be able to delegate entire fields of work to AI and concentrate on their core business.
There is already an AI race taking place in the esports world. If you are not investing to create or work with an AI in any field, you can be assured your competitors are. As a result, they will experience a drastic result in costs and efficiency, and will eventually disrupt the market. Companies turning to AI will gain a competitive edge and will improve the quality of esports performance.
In conclusion, I think that AI is the most important development in achieving an all-around stronger esports ecosystem and that it should ultimately be among its primary areas of focus.
Written by Charles FUSTER