Microsoft is developing an AI chatbot for Xbox

Calvin D

Xbox staff members are currently in the testing phase of a revolutionary virtual chatbot, designed to streamline support inquiries and facilitate the processing of game refunds. Microsoft is pioneering an AI-powered chatbot for the Xbox, focusing on automating various support tasks, as revealed by insiders familiar with Microsoft's strategy. This chatbot, an "embodied AI character," comes to life through animation when tackling questions related to Xbox support. It represents a segment of Microsoft's broader initiative to incorporate AI into the Xbox platform and services ecosystem.

The chatbot accesses Microsoft's comprehensive support documentation for the Xbox network and ecosystem, providing answers to queries and even handling game refund requests directly through Microsoft's support website. An internal description within Microsoft highlights, "This agent can assist you with your Xbox support questions." Recently, Microsoft widened the testing field for this Xbox chatbot, hinting at the potential for this "Xbox Support Virtual Agent" to eventually manage support queries for all Xbox users. Microsoft has confirmed the chatbot's existence to The Verge.

"We are piloting an Xbox Support Virtual Agent, a prototype featuring an animated character that navigates Xbox Support topics via voice or text," explained Haiyan Zhang, Xbox's general manager of gaming AI. This prototype aims to simplify and expedite the support process, enabling players to engage with support content using conversational language, drawn from existing Xbox Support resources. This initiative mirrors Microsoft's encouragement for its customers to harness AI in automating support tasks, with companies like Vodafone and PwC utilizing Microsoft's Azure AI Bot Service to create their own AI conversational bots.

The Xbox chatbot commences interactions by inquiring, "How can I help you today?", ready to swiftly address a range of support issues from hardware malfunctions to subscription disputes. Internal testing at Microsoft extends to support for Minecraft Realms services. Beyond this support-focused chatbot, Microsoft Gaming is ambitiously integrating AI into the Xbox ecosystem, exploring AI in game content creation, game operations, and the development of generative AI-driven non-player characters, in collaboration with Inworld. The vision extends to crafting AI 'Copilots' for safety and moderation across the platform.

While Xbox employees have been reticent on their comprehensive AI initiatives within Microsoft Gaming, the company treads carefully, mindful of the AI perception in the gaming sphere. Microsoft's CEO, Satya Nadella, has championed the integration of AI across the company's offerings, with Xbox primarily engaging with AI on the developer tool front to date. During an Xbox assembly earlier, Microsoft executives shared an "Xbox Everywhere" vision, positioning "AI innovation" alongside aspirations for a unified device ecosystem and a platform empowering play across any device. This announcement coincided with hints at a next-gen Xbox boasting significant AI advancements. Meanwhile, with Sony rumored to launch a PS5 Pro incorporating AI-enhanced image upscaling, Microsoft is poised to ensure its AI capabilities remain competitive in the console domain.