I am currently working on a multiplayer game. I have recently gotten more aware of the problem that as an indie multiplayer game that offers matchmaking, my game might very quickly fall victim to a situation where nobody is playing, which discourages new players from playing because there are no lobbies, effectively killing the game due to a chicken-and-egg problem.

I have seen a video on fake players in io-games some years ago, where the narrator came up with the theory that many popular io-games use AI to seed their servers to prevent the above situation from happening. My question therefore is: Is it unethical to implement AI that pretends to be human in order to seed a multiplayer lobby?

If so, what is the best strategy to deal with this situation? Even large AAA games often fall victim to the empty-server problem, so it poses a significant risk to my indie game.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You can always add AI, and make it clear to the user that it's AI. Some games have done that by naming those players something like AI-Bob for example. This way you are transparent to users about how this works. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2022 at 13:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ It is not unethical to implement multiplayer bots to fill player slots. But deceiving the player into thinking there are no bots when there are… Is deceiving the player. \$\endgroup\$
    – Theraot
    Dec 6, 2022 at 13:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I voted to close this question as "primarily opinion-based", because what is and isn't ethical is a matter of debate. This question might work better on a more discussion-oriented platform than Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$
    – Philipp
    Dec 6, 2022 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TomTsagk Titanfall comes to mind. I am struggling to come up with a way to implement bots into my game, that's why I came up with this question \$\endgroup\$ Dec 6, 2022 at 13:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TomDoodler If you're having problems adding bots in your game, you may reword your question as "How can I prevent the empty-servers problem without implementing AI-controlled characters?" which seems to me to be less prone to opinion-based answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – liggiorgio
    Dec 6, 2022 at 13:59


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