Microsoft’s New Xbox AI Chatbot Is As Boring As It Sounds

Microsoft is going hard on AI on all fronts of its business, and that includes Xbox. This has been stated by leadership before, but how exactly that would make its way into the Xbox ecosystem has been unclear. Gen AI games? Furious console war debates with ChatGPT? Not exactly.

Tom Warren at The Verge has a new (confirmed by Microsoft) report that Xbox AI chatbots are being tested which would include an “embodied AI character” (no, Cortana is not mentioned at all anywhere here. Nor is Clippy). But the purpose is simply to automate Xbox support tasks. It can answer questions and also do things like game refunds. Here’s what Xbox said when questioned by The Verge about it:

“We are testing an Xbox Support Virtual Agent, an internal prototype of an animated character that can query Xbox Support topics with voice or text,” says Haiyan Zhang, general manager of gaming AI at Xbox, speaking to The Verge. “The prototype makes it easier and quicker for players to get help with support topics using natural language, taking information from existing Xbox Support pages.”

Support chatbots are hardly anything new in any industry, but the idea here is that an AI one may be able to do both more things and speak more naturally like we’ve seen with large-language model AI. Of course, this raises questions about whose jobs may be replaced by AI here if Microsoft converts player support from thousands of real humans to a chatbot, but that isn’t detailed in the piece.

AI is reported to be a part of whatever the next generation Xbox will be, but in what capacity is unclear. I’m thinking back to the days of Xbox Kinect where you could talk to your Xbox and get it to do things that way, and if they could make an AI chatbot with that functionality that might be interesting. But I don’t think anyone hopes that it means something like AI generating art, assets or voicework for games from Microsoft studios. There’s no indication as of yet that’s the case.

This support bot is still in testing and it’s unclear when it might be rolled out widely, assuming it works. As for where Xbox AI goes from here, it’s anyone’s guess, but you can bet it’s something they’ll try to press as an advantage over Sony and Nintendo, given the full weight of Microsoft’s AI ambitions and tech behind it. This is just the start, for better or worse.

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