Mon. Sep 26th, 2022
Video game voice actor strike may finally be over

Eleven months of negotiations between high profile voice actors and video game producers finally seem over, according to an announcement from acting union SAG-AFTRA released Monday. The strike’s biggest sticking point, regarding “secondary compensation” (also called royalties or residuals), appears to favor game publishers, not actors.

The statement from SAG-AFTRA confirmed that the two sides have tentatively agreed to a “new bonus structure” that will pay the voice actors of the games union members additional money if the game they have been working on is released commercially. This sliding-scale bonus payout appears to be fixed for all actors, with a single voice acting “session” earning an actor an additional $75 and up to $2,100 if the actor has worked at least 10 sessions for the game in question. (The meaning of “session” has not been clarified.)

This differs from SAG-AFTRA’s original requirement for royalty payments based on game sales. The union’s proposal sought a royalty for voice actors whose games sold more than 2 million copies, with more royalties at the 4, 6 and 8 million sales level. SAG-AFTRA never went public with the payment amounts they sought for those sales levels, so it’s unclear how much less (or more) game publishers will pay out for this flatter, “if a game comes out at all” bonus system.

On the other hand, different requirements about project transparency and vocal stress worked more in favor of the actors. Game voice actors have traditionally been given no information about the games they play for, with even Mass effect‘s voice actors get no more guidance than “here’s a line, read it a few times.” Now voice actors get some perspective from union members before accepting or starting a voice acting session, including: a game’s codename, genre, links to existing IP, whether character voiced in previous games appeared, any profanity or racist comments in the script, sexual or violent content, and whether stunts are required.

However, the agreement between the two sides on vocal stress is not so clear-cut, as SAG-AFTRA simply refers to “employer involvement” in the matter. SAG-AFTRA had previously dismissed vocal stress issues such as “fainting during sessions, sampling blood, vomiting, losing their voice for a day to several weeks, and losing their vocal range permanently.”

SAG-AFTRA concluded its statement by pointing to the publishers’ original demands that were not met by the actors, including the idea of ​​fines for voice actors for being late to sessions. No other statements have been issued to clarify what concessions the union of actors has agreed to. We have sent inquiries to SAG-AFTRA for clarification, and we will update this report with any response.

This concludes the progress SAG-AFTRA has made on fragmented deals with individual game producers and companies, but it may come as cold consolation to those whose favorite series switched voice actors during the 11-month strike.

By akfire1

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