The games industry is one of the sectors that are rapidly adopting AI technologies and trying to implement them into pipelines. As a result, the number of illustrator jobs in China has plummeted.

Number of game illustrator jobs in China is down 70%

Never After

  • This is according to a new report from Rest of World (thanks, Game Developer). More and more Chinese game companies are now relying on generative AI art over human illustrators.
  • Freelance artist Amber Yu, who used to make $430-$1,000 for every game poster she made, told the publication that she saw many of those job opportunities disappear.
  • Chinese developers, including giants like Tencent, use the power of Midjourney, Stable Diffusion, and other AI art generators to design game characters, backgrounds, and promo materials.
  • This allows companies to cut costs. “Our goal has been to develop better tools to enable our talented teams of art designers and illustrators to create assets faster or more efficiently during the game development process,” a NetEase spokesperson said.
  • Many artists are left on the sidelines, and some are anxious about the new reality. As one game artist told Rest of World, “our way of making a living is suddenly destroyed.” Another artist noted that AI technologies made them more productive, but also more exhausted.
  • According to games industry recruiter Leo Li, the number of illustrator jobs dropped by about 70% over the past year. In addition to regulatory pressure and slowing economy, the rapid adoption of AI technologies is the main factor.
  • Li noted that “bosses may be thinking they don’t need so many employees.”
  • Jeffrey Ding, an assistant professor at George Washington University, thinks that AI could eliminate a wide range of white-collar jobs, “not just artists, but like lawyers and writing services.”

Chinese authorities, however, have already taken the first steps to regulate the growing industry. On April 11, the Cyberspace Administration of China proposed a list of measures, saying that AI-generated content should always be labeled and reflect the “core values of socialism.” According to Bloomberg, this could lead to a potential ban on foreign AI tools and learning models in China.

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