Activision files patent for AI-generated game soundtracks

A new Activision patent could reveal the future of video game soundtracks – with artificial intelligence at the fore.
video game soundtracks

Activision is exploring the potential uses of AI in creating unique video game soundtracks, according to a new patent filing spotted by Exputer. The patent relates to custom, AI-driven music designed to enhance the drama and tension of gaming action, dependent on player input.

‘There is a need for systems and methods that generate and modulate music unique to individual players,’ the patent filing reads. By using AI, game developers could dynamically generate and modulate music ‘based on gaming events, player profiles, and/or player reactions’, making for a more engaging and sensory experience.

Notably, this patent does not make reference to AI-generated music – rather, it refers to AI-driven modulation that would alter an already-established musical track. Success or failure in a game would change the pitch and tone of this music, helping players to note gameplay shifts.

In Activision’s case, it could serve as the basis of tense battles in Call of Duty, with music sweeping and soaring in moments of flow, or pitching low as players enter more cloistered battlefields.

Read: The High Score conference is building game audio from the ground up

‘By automating the process of what kind of music is being played and how the music is modulated, the video game may become more immersive, become more enjoyable and provide players with a wide variety of customisable features in order to enhance the overall user experience,’ Activision said in the patent filing.

In identifying a set ‘mood’, the AI can then manipulate soundtracks, ‘music elements’ and audio segments to create a more dynamic profile that better suits players, and the gameplay itself. This system is largely described as aiding multiplayer games, but would likely have an impact on single-player titles, too.

Overall, it’s an intriguing idea – and one that certainly has identifiable use cases. While deploying AI as part of the musical process will likely spark concern from creators, it doesn’t appear Activision is planning to remove the essential human talent from the equation. AI will always be an inferior tool to the human mind, and one that only aids human-led creations – but it may certainly have a place in the future of gaming.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.