Gaming (as in “video gaming”) is hot.

Spurred on by new hardware releases, major acquisitions, and ultra-popular franchises like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Pokémon, and others, the gaming industry has cemented its place as the number one segment in the entertainment industry.

Text to Speech Usage in Video Games is Set to Grow

2019 revenue from mobile gaming alone ($65.6b) outpaced revenue from the box office and music sectors combined ($62.7b), and when you add in the numbers from console and PC-related sales the comparison isn’t even close. In total, the video game sector of the entertainment industry raked in more than $145b worldwide in 2019 and that stands to increase in 2020 as people turn to online gaming to fill the entertainment void brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

At ReadSpeaker we’ve seen the demand for video game text-to-speech (TTS) solutions rise as it has in other verticals we serve. Independent game producers are trying to carve out a piece of the gaming industry pie without breaking the bank as they compete with stalwarts like Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.  TTS generated character voices are a cost-effective way to provide the immersive experience gamers demand, and digital solutions are offsetting the costs and time associated with hiring top-notch voice talent or even Hollywood actors to voice game characters.

The advent of neural voices to impart emotion, speaking style, and character distinction is an increasingly common way game producers leverage TTS to give life to their stories and games. You can listen to an example of a gaming character voice by clicking the link below – the sample was created using ReadSpeaker’s latest DNN technology for a customer that needed a voice to “embody a holograph” and speak in a fearful tone:

While this is a unique speaking style and very game specific, it speaks to the realism that is now possible with neural TTS, as well as the scalability. As a digital asset the voice will be leveraged for future game instalments and even as the foundation for creating other characters and narration. With just a few tweaks to remove the ‘evil’ speaking filter, the same voice can be made softer as evidenced in the sample below:

Character voices are but one way game designers are using TTS to develop and produce immersive game experiences. Read on to learn the three most common use cases for TTS in the gaming industry.

1. Game Prototyping

TTS is used in the prototyping phase of game development when testing scripts before voice actors are hired to read the final dialogue or narration. TTS allows designers and producers to rapidly swap lines of dialog and listen to variations in real-time to ensure that they accurately represent the character, scene, scenario, or story. Designers also have scripts “read” in different languages using multiple genders to ensure that dialog is consistent across audiences and demographics. With TTS as a prototyping tool, production time is sped up allowing for measurably quicker development and speed to market. 

2. Accessibility

When onboarding new users to a digital game, game play instruction and functionality is typically provided through a combination of graphic and text cues. Storylines are frequently presented via text, which alienates visually impaired gamers or younger users that have yet to be taught to read. By voice-enabling tutorials using TTS, games accommodate a wider array of users while creating a more engaging, immersive experience.

3. Character Voices

As recently as a few years ago, the quality of TTS solutions did not meet the exacting standards of highly produced, big-budget games. Digital voices at the time could not accurately represent different character types (and differentiate an evil character from a silly character, etc.) and as a result TTS has long suffered from an image problem – until recently there was a stigma that TTS voices were too synthetic. With today’s neural voices however, characters can be voiced on-brand with consistent quality and speaking style. Emotion, laughter, and other para-linguistic sounds and expressions combine to bring synthetic characters to life and stretch the realm of possibility beyond what was available just a short time ago.

The competition in the gaming industry is heated and getting hotter, and with constant pressure to bring games to market quickly, TTS has always been a valuable cost and time saver when compared to hiring voice talent. With the deployment of new neural voices that allow the same time savings but with more lifelike quality, the array of available applications for TTS is keeping pace with game developers’ needs. Contact ReadSpeaker to learn more about our voices and languages or to hear some of the latest samples from our gaming library.