Nintendo president rejects the use of generative AI in upcoming games — issues of pedigree and copyright cited

Official concept art for Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom.
Official concept art for Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. (Image credit: Nintendo)

Breaking from other big names in the gaming industry, Nintendo is standing by game development without the use of generative AI shortcuts, per Nintendo President Shuntaro Furakawa [h/t GameWorldObserver]. This is in stark contrast to the 1,000+ generative AI games already available on Steam, and comments from other big names in the gaming industry.

"Generative AI, which has been a hot topic in recent years, can be more creative, but we also recognize that it has issues with intellectual property rights. Our company has decades of know-how in creating optimal gaming experiences for our consumers," said Furakawa. "While we are flexible in responding to technological developments, we hope to continue to deliver value that is unique to us and cannot be created through technology alone."

As noted by GameWorldObserver (GWO) in its coverage of this statement, this is quite a bit different from the viewpoints of executives at major AAA studios like Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, and Take-Two Interactive.

We've previously covered Ubisoft's Neo NPC project, which is the product of a partnership between Ubisoft, Nvidia, and Inworld AI, as well as ominous EA patents. Obviously, Ubisoft is actively embracing generative AI, though Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick's statements quoted by GWO lean toward a more balanced approach, stating "Hits are created by Genius, and data sets plus compute, plus large language models do not equal Genius. Genius is in the domain of human beings, and I believe we'll stay that way."

Meanwhile, Electronic Arts CEO Andrew Wilson is pretty much on the opposite side of the coin from Nintendo entirely, declaring that "More than 50% of our development processes will be positively impacted by the advances in generative AI."

Thus far, Nintendo's statement against generative AI adoption has been pretty uncontroversial — in fact, it's probably one of their most popular corporate decisions, just behind fan-favorite game series revivals and dropping executive pay in slim periods so as not to fire employees.

While Nintendo will unhesitantly go on the warpath against fan mods and claims no legitimate use for game preservation/enhancement via emulation, the firm maintains a pretty good reputation among its core fans and anyone who actually cares about laborers in the gaming industry. This line marks a contrast with Microsoft's Xbox and most of the other major publishers.

While mainstream and especially American AAA studios seem content to mass-hire and mass-fire employees to finish games quickly, please shareholders, and raise executive pay, Nintendo truly does things differently. As the gaming industry pivots more to pleasing shareholders and its executives rather than actually taking care of its employees for long-term health, it's a relief that some companies still understand the actual value of the humans they hire and the art they create beyond numbers on a spreadsheet.

I'm not buying another Nintendo console until at least Switch 2, though. Sorry, Big N.

Christopher Harper
Contributing Writer

Christopher Harper has been a successful freelance tech writer specializing in PC hardware and gaming since 2015, and ghostwrote for various B2B clients in High School before that. Outside of work, Christopher is best known to friends and rivals as an active competitive player in various eSports (particularly fighting games and arena shooters) and a purveyor of music ranging from Jimi Hendrix to Killer Mike to the Sonic Adventure 2 soundtrack.

  • Notton
    Nintendo did a good thing, but I suspect this decision hinged heavily on IP rights.
    I would imagine Nintendo would dominate the news cycle -in a bad way- if they got caught using stolen IP.

    The other key indicator. If noobisoft and EA is doing it, that is a good sign you shouldn't.
    Reply
  • Alvar "Miles" Udell
    That's the wrong stance. What they need to do is develop their own "AI" to use for things which devs don't spend much time on, such as NPCs, and develop algorithms (these days known as "AI") to efficiently create "random" textures for things such as water or sky to create a more immersive game. Basically things studios devote about 0.5% of development time anyway and what fan mods fix.
    Reply
  • kjfatl
    Alvar Miles Udell said:
    That's the wrong stance. What they need to do is develop their own "AI" to use for things which devs don't spend much time on, such as NPCs, and develop algorithms (these days known as "AI") to efficiently create "random" textures for things such as water or sky to create a more immersive game. Basically things studios devote about 0.5% of development time anyway and what fan mods fix.
    It is likely that Nintendo is developing its own AI algorithms, trained using its own data with watermarks designed to be detectable in products developed using Nintendo game data as source. Then nature of the watermarks will be secret so they are not easily detected and removed. The AI will of course be independent of hardware supplier and will be offered as a product to other game developers. Taking this approach will give them the profit, leaving NVIDIA and Open AI in the cold.
    If you sell a product and Nintendo detects their watermarks in it, Nintendo will demand and get royalties from you.
    Reply
  • TheyCallMeContra
    kjfatl said:
    It is likely that Nintendo is developing its own AI algorithms, trained using its own data with watermarks designed to be detectable in products developed using Nintendo game data as source. Then nature of the watermarks will be secret so they are not easily detected and removed. The AI will of course be independent of hardware supplier and will be offered as a product to other game developers. Taking this approach will give them the profit, leaving NVIDIA and Open AI in the cold.
    If you sell a product and Nintendo detects their watermarks in it, Nintendo will demand and get royalties from you.
    likely according to...?
    Reply
  • Ferlucio
    Releasing the same pokemon game for 30 years really takes a special kind of creativity.
    Reply
  • kjfatl
    Ferlucio said:
    Releasing the same pokemon game for 30 years really takes a special kind of creativity.
    Today, roughly 50% of all games across mobile, PC, and console globally are made with Unity, including ~70% of the world’s top 1,000 mobile games.
    Reply
  • TheyCallMeContra
    kjfatl said:
    Take a look at unity.com, Nintendo's developer website. Nintendo has been in the software business for 40 years and has a long term view of business. The comments I made reflect my years in the computer development business, and the understanding of how to win in this type of business for 30 or more years. They are not going to get their main business captive to a company like IBM, DEC, NCR or Nvidia, all of which were at or near the top of the market for a decade or more.
    Unity has nothing to do with Nintendo at all, dude. I have no idea why you're bringing up the Unity Engine right now. Who misled you this severely??

    Nintendo has only dabbled in that engine for mobile games, as well. BOTW and TOTK sure AF aren't running on Unity, lmao.
    Ferlucio said:
    Releasing the same pokemon game for 30 years really takes a special kind of creativity.

    Nintendo shares ownership of the Pokemon license but doesn't actually develop Pokemon games, that's GameFreak sitting on their laurels specifically. Mainstream Nintendo franchises developed in-house have kept a higher bar of quality than that, particularly Zelda, Mario, and the upcoming Metroid Prime 4.
    Reply
  • mac_angel
    So, devil's advocate sort of thing about the whole "intellectual property rights". You could use the exact same argument on everyone that has ever produced something. Including musicians, artists, etc. People will always be influenced by other artists. You wouldn't be able to tell someone that since they went to an art gallery that they are no longer allowed to paint because they looked at someone else's work.

    I'm not saying I'm condoning AI and the intellectual property arguments, I'm just pointing out that Ai is literally doing the same thing that people do, just at a much, much greater speed and scale.
    Reply
  • kjfatl
    TheyCallMeContra said:
    Unity has nothing to do with Nintendo at all, dude. I have no idea why you're bringing up the Unity Engine right now. Who misled you this severely??

    Nintendo has only dabbled in that engine for mobile games, as well. BOTW and TOTK sure AF aren't running on Unity, lmao.


    Nintendo shares ownership of the Pokemon license but doesn't actually develop Pokemon games, that's GameFreak sitting on their laurels specifically. Mainstream Nintendo franchises developed in-house have kept a higher bar of quality than that, particularly Zelda, Mario, and the upcoming Metroid Prime 4.
    Sorry about that. I followed a link from the Nintendo website and assumed that Nintendo owned the product. I do know that Nintendo has taken a significant amount of the money that came in from Pokémon Go and used it for software that they sell to others for gaming development. Check you sources carefully before you invest. We all make mistakes.
    Reply
  • Ferlucio
    kjfatl said:
    Today, roughly 50% of all games across mobile, PC, and console globally are made with Unity, including ~70% of the world’s top 1,000 mobile games.
    Yeah, and few of them are good. Of course there are some great game on unity, especially back before they killed their own business. But quantity is not the factory I was criticizing in the original comment and thus your factoid doesn't really add or detract anything.
    Reply