Hellblade devs clarify they aren't just replacing real actors with AI after voice acting controversy

Senua's Saga: Hellblade 2 screenshot
(Image credit: Xbox Game Studios)

Ninja Theory, the Xbox subsidiary best known for the Hellblade games, has clarified that it's not replacing real actors with AI, putting to rest some fears after a report on the state of AI voice acting technology.

Asked by a fan on Twitter if Ninja Theory was considering replacing voice actors with AI, the studio replied "No. For clarity, we use this AI tech for placeholder content only to help us understand things like timing and placement in early phases of development. We then collaborate with real actors whose performances are at the heart of bringing our stories to life."

Ninja Theory's comment comes in the wake of a report published by USA Today about Altered AI, a company which creates AI voice acting technology. The report notes that while AI voice acting is already commonly used as a placeholder in development, many voice actors are concerned that the tech may evolve to a point where it will replace human performances with "soulless" AI imitations.

Altered AI has already been used to provide voice acting in a released video game, as it was used in the 2021 action-RPG The Ascent to voice many sidequest NPCs. The report also notes that the technology is in use by Ninja Theory, though Altered AI did not provide any detail on how it was being used by that studio.

Still, the report was enough to kick up a wave of social media concern over whether Ninja Theory was set to move to AI voice acting for upcoming games like Hellblade 2, to the point where the studio felt a need to respond. The original Hellblade was particularly renowned for the performances of actors like Melina Juergens, and it seems that human performance capture is continuing at the studio for now.

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Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.