CD Projekt, the developer behind the highly popular game Cyberpunk 2077, has generated controversy by using artificial intelligence (AI) to replace a deceased voice actor in their latest expansion. Miłogost Reczek, a Polish voice actor known for his work in The Witcher games and Cyberpunk 2077, passed away in December 2021.
According to Bloomberg, CD Projekt obtained permission from Reczek’s family to recreate his voice using AI for the expansion titled Phantom Liberty. The company’s localization director, Mikołaj Szwed, explained that CD Projekt did not want to find a replacement for Reczek and re-record his lines. Instead, they hired another voice actor to perform new lines for the character Viktor Vektor and then used voice-cloning software to make it sound like Reczek’s voice.
Szwed stated, “This way, we could keep his performance in the game and pay tribute to his wonderful performance as Viktor Vektor.”
The use of AI in video game development has become a hot topic in the industry, particularly among voice actors who express concerns about the future of their profession. Last month, members of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to authorize a strike to address issues related to voice actors’ work in video games, including the encroachment of AI technology.
Zeke Alton, a member of the Interactive Negotiating Committee, emphasized the need to protect actors from being replaced by AI, stating, “Not a prohibition on it, but just as we move forward with the technology, how do we move with it and not get left behind?”
Voice actors have been raising concerns about AI-generated content, including explicit Skyrim mods and the unauthorized use of their voices in AI-generated mods. The fear is that AI algorithms could replace human actors, leading to job losses and negative implications for the economy and society as a whole.
Despite these concerns, the use of generative AI in the entertainment industry has been on the rise. Disney, for example, has used AI to recreate deceased actors in the Star Wars franchise, while AI was also employed to de-age Harrison Ford in the upcoming Indiana Jones film.
CD Projekt’s decision to use AI to replace a deceased voice actor has sparked a debate about the ethics and implications of this technology in the industry. While some argue that it allows developers to pay tribute to actors and preserve their performances, others worry about the impact on live actors and the potential loss of jobs.
As AI continues to advance, the industry will need to carefully navigate the ethical considerations surrounding its use. AI tools, including voice-cloning software, have the potential to revolutionize game development but must be implemented responsibly to ensure the preservation of human creativity and the protection of workers in the entertainment industry.