Microsoft’s Copilot AI will pinch game guides to help PC and Xbox players

Microsoft has revealed its Copilot AI will be able to "help" players complete tasks in games.

During its latest tech showcase, Microsoft has unveiled a slew of AI tools designed to speed up work processes, and provide aid and advice where needed. It’s also revealed that in future, Microsoft games for Xbox and PC may feature integration of Copilot, an AI system that’s been trained on ChatGPT and Dalle-3 language models – which notoriously scrape the web for data.

In a demonstration shared by Rich DeMuro and surfaced by Windows Central, Microsoft Copilot is used to help a player wandering through Minecraft. The player asks for help with materials, and the Copilot AI details exactly what they’ll need to craft a particular item.

Per this video, Copilot is able to “see” what the players are viewing on screen, and then match these details to particular guides in its memory banks. But how does Copilot know how to make a sword in Minecraft?

Game guides and their importance

Well, you see, the internet is filled with guides detailing exactly that. How to find materials in Minecraft. How to craft a sword in Minecraft. How to build a shelter in Minecraft. For years, Google has encouraged gaming website to produce guide coverage for SEO purposes, with many relying on guide traffic to stay afloat.

Guides are seen as easy wins for websites – many gain early access to games for review, and then produce a handful of guides for particular puzzles or challenges they know players will search for, immediately after the game launches. Guides are consistently the most engaging types of content on video game websites – GamesHub included.

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And for years, websites have been rewarded with strong traffic for continuing to produce them.

Now, it appears those same game guides will be “free” for Copilot AI and other AI models to “learn” from. Every game guide posted online is liable to be scraped by AI models, with all of this information then gathered and centralised into a single source of data.

As Windows Central laments, having Copilot directly regurgitate guides to players as they play games will mean circumventing the websites and writers that first penned those guides. Websites will not get traffic from this, as their content has merely been pinched to feed the AI data set.

What’s next for games media?

In the short term, feeding AI models with existing game guides is a viable solution. Websites are continuing to focus on guide content, and at an increasingly rapid pace, to overcome Google algorithm and SEO changes which have tanked traffic over the last year. But when those same sites can’t survive, when AI tools have scraped all their guides, and traffic is diverted to direct AI input, where will the AI models get their data from?

Eventually, there will be a time when websites can’t afford to employ people to write guides, and there will be no guides to crib from. AI tools can’t create their own information – they work by learning from humans. They can’t play a game, and then develop their own guides and advice. The information they deliver is just parroting from the web – and not always accurately, mind you.

That’s not to mention the other, simpler questions around these tools. Why? for starters. Games like Minecraft are supposed to be fun and education. Where’s the fun if you can click a button, and have all the answers given to you? Should it not be a process of exploring, experimenting, and trying new skills?

In its first showcase, Microsoft’s Copilot AI has inspired more questions than answers. We’re likely to understand the full impact of this technology and its application in the years ahead, but until then, we’re left scratching our heads.

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.