Video Game Voice Actors Could Go on Strike
The video game industry could be getting a massive behind the scenes shake up. Video game voice actors are voting in potential strike action as negotiations between their union, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), and video game publishers continue negotiations over several issues, including compensation and residuals.
The biggest of the issues that SAG-AFTRA is negotiating with the publisher is regarding compensation of voice actors and payments of residuals. Currently, it’s not standard practice for publishers to offer residuals or royalties to voice actors based on the sales of games. The SAG proposal calls for a reduction in base pay but bonuses being paid to talent at 2 million units sold and additional bonuses every two million units after that capped to a maximum bonus at 8 million units sold.
There is also a request from the union to increase the pay of actors who are used in vocally stressful situations. The union is also looking for a stunt coordinator to be on set of motion captured games.
Counter-proposals from the publishers include fines for actors who arrive late, fines for agents that don’t allow actors to be used for smaller roles (such as additional voices credits) and the publishers wanting to use their own staff in voice roles as non-union actors.
For SAG-AFTRA to initiate strike action, 75% of voting interactive performer (the union’s technical term for video game voice actors) SAG-AFTRA members must approve strike action. Any strike would result in union members not participating in any video game or interactive project for the duration of the strike.
Currently, both the union and publishers are in the midst of a media blackout meaning both sides are withholding further comment about negotiations.
The big issue for gamers is what happens with the strike vote. A number of prominent names, including Steven Blum and Jennifer Hale, are voting yes on strike action. That doesn’t mean that SAG-AFTRA will necessarily hit the 75% threshold for strike action. As with the TV writers strike of 2007-08, this would likely grind production on upcoming games to a halt. While voice work is likely completed or substantially for most games due out this fall and possibly some games due out Q1 2016, there is a possibility that some of the Q2 or Q3 releases might run into production issues if voice work is pushed back. The longer any strike goes, the closer we get to serious issues with the Q4 2016 production cycle.
For now, it’s business as usual under the dark cloud of a possible strike. If you thought TV fans were mad during the writers strike, hell hath no fury like a gamer scorned.
Source: Game Informer