Google's Deepmind And Blizzard Release StarCraft 2 API

Now, we'll get to see if self-learning machines can implement a Zerg rush.


In November 2016, Blizzard and Google's Deepmind announced that they'd be collaborating to make StarCraft 2 next in line to challenge the AI of self-learning machines. Strategy games Chess and GO have already been overcome, but StarCraft is almost a different beast entirely. Yesterday, Blizzard announced that the StarCraft API (Application Program Interface) has arrived and artificial intelligence experiments can now commence.

The tools are part of a release called SC2LE and it includes the following:

  • A Machine Learning API developed by Blizzard that gives researchers and developers hooks into the game. This includes the release of tools for Linux for the first time.
  • A dataset of anonymised game replays, which will increase from 65k to more than half a million in the coming weeks.
  • An open source version of DeepMind’s toolset, PySC2, to allow researchers to easily use Blizzard’s feature-layer API with their agents.
  • A series of simple RL mini-games to allow researchers to test the performance of agents on specific tasks.
  • A joint paper that outlines the environment, and reports initial baseline results on the mini-games, supervised learning from replays, and the full 1v1 ladder game against the built-in AI.

“One of the best ways to accelerate AI research is to improve the quality and diversity of environments in which to test algorithms,” says Ilya Sutskever, the research director of OpenAI, in a statement to Quartz last year. “Making StarCraft more widely available will aid the research community.”

Chess and GO, the two games that AI have already conquered at this point, are simple enough to learn but difficult to master. StarCraft 2, on the other hand, has a relatively higher bar of entry that the AI will have to overcome specifically related to the management of resources while also attempting to overcome an opponent.

If an AI is able to recognize, quantify the value of, and procure a handful of different resources while also implementing a winning combat strategy, what are the implications there? Google Deepmind has already shown off AI learning how to run in different ways across diverse environments, so what’s next if StarCraft 2 is conquered? You’re entirely forgiven if you snuck in a Skynet joke at this point.

We’ll update on this huge moment as soon as more develops. What are the chances Elon Musk chimes in again on the danger AI poses to humanity when a self-learning machine resorts to a brilliantly crafted Zerg rush?

Charles Singletary Jr keeps the updates flowing as the News Editor, breaking stories while investigating the biggest topics in gaming and technology. He's pretty active on Twitter, so feel free to reach out to him @The_CSJR. Got a hot tip? Email him at

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