Blizzard is using AI to generate concept art: “Prepare to be amazed!”

blizzard ai

Blizzard is using AI to generate its art, as the developer declares: “We are on the brink of a major evolution in how we build and manage our games.”


A New York Times article has revealed that Blizzard is using an artificial intelligence (AI) tool to generate concept art. The article says that Blizzard’s chief design officer, Allen Adham, emailed employees last month to tell them about a tool called Blizzard Diffusion (named after the AI image generator Stable Diffusion).

“Prepare to be amazed,” Adham wrote in the email. “We are on the brink of a major evolution in how we build and manage our games.” Blizzard Diffusion has apparently been trained on art from Blizzard’s own titles, such as World of Warcraft and Diablo, and will be used to generate concept art for environments, characters and outfits.

Kotaku reacted negatively to the news in an article headlined: “Blizzard’s AI Tools Sound Incredibly Depressing”. Author Luke Plunkett argues that Blizzard has built its reputation on creating memorable characters, so “To hear people at the company enthused about letting robots, trained to serve an algorithmic gruel, take over even some of that work bums me out more than I can put into words.”

AI image generators like Stable Diffusion have caused controversy because they are trained on millions, even billions, of images scraped from the internet. Artists fear that the images they have created are being used to train an algorithm that could ultimately replace them.

Recently, I spoke to Matthew Guzdial, an AI researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada for a feature in EDGE magazine on the use of AI in video games. He pointed out that AI is unlikely to replace video game artists in the near future simply because it’s so unreliable, with output varying greatly across images – hardly ideal for creating a consistent look. But he added that the work of concept artists could be greatly affected by the rollout of generative AI, simply because image-generation tools excel at allowing the instant visualisation of ideas.

Now, with the advent of Blizzard Diffusion, it seems that prediction is becoming a reality.

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