Video game voice actors known for their roles in iconic game series like Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and more are considering a strike for higher compensation for their work.
They’ve begun to drum up awareness for the movement via the hashtag #PerformanceMatters, with a wide variety of voice actors and fans rallying behind the cause.
“Dear actors & gamers, Please retweet if you agree that #PerformanceMatters in video games #IAmOnBoard2015,” said David Hayter on Twitter. Jennifer Hale also sounded off on Twitter: “voted YES bc #performancematters #Iamonboard2015.”
The union representing voice actors, SAG-AFTRA, is looking into a strike, if their demands aren’t reached. According to their official website, SAG-AFTRA is hoping to obtain performance bonuses like royalties after a game begins making profit; a stunt coordinator on set (as well as stunt pay for “vocally stressful recording sessions”); more communication on game projects; more preparation for motion capture; and more.
SAG-AFTRA has entered negotiations with large publishers like Activision and EA since February, to no avail. Union members can vote on whether or not they want to go on strike since the 16th of September, with voting closing on October 5th.
How are game developers reacting to this? While you won’t see much publicly on social media, we’ve obtained some reactions from both AAA and former-AAA developers. To protect the identities of these individuals, we’ve censored their names.
“Drop them all,” said one developer. “I couldn’t give less of a shit who the actors are that perform game voices. These people are nuts. They already get too much money for what is arguably a pretty easy gig. We’re working years on single projects for, if we are lucky, fair salaries.”
“The problem us devs have is that they are asking for royalties for a day or a week of work when devs work on titles for 2-5 years and get none,” said another developer. “Every few years they do this and re-learn that they aren’t that special,” said another developer.
“And the ONE guy that gets all the jobs so ‘narrative designers’ can jerk off to meeting him,” said another developer.
One developer responded to a fan saying they want higher rewards for voice talent, while also questioning whether or not underpaid developers could strike as well. “Devs can’t strike. There’s a much higher supply of potential devs than jobs. A dev strike would be met with a wave of goodbye. There’s nothing so special about certain voice actors that I can’t live without.”
Finally, another developer recanted a bygone time in which game developers got back more from the games they helped create. “There was a time when devs used to get royalties… and you worked your ass off in the hope that when the game made it big you would see a nice pay day. Now, seems that game development is like a labor camp where no matter how hard you work you will never get a big reward for your efforts.”
It’s worth reiterating these are only a handful of game developers, and are by no means an example of the gaming industry at large. However, it really makes you wonder how other game developers feel. If you’re a game developer and would like to speak up regarding the issue – please contact us!
What are your thoughts on the entire thing? Do voice actors deserve higher compensation for their work, or should we be looking instead to benefit the game developers first?