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5 Things to Know About the Video Game Voice Actor Strike

/ Oct 21st, 2016 No Comments

Video Game Voice Actor Strike

After negotiating with the video game industry for two years, SAG-AFTRA, the video game voice actor union, has decided to strike. Effective midnight Oct. 21, video game voice actors went on strike.

The negotiations are very complex and there are many factors at play for the voice actors and the video game industry. But what does this strike mean for the consumer? Here are five things every consumer should know about the video game voice actor strike.

1. What companies does the strike affect?

SAG-AFTRA said the union is striking the following companies:

– Activision Publishing, Inc.
– Blindlight, LLC
– Corps of Discovery Films
– Disney Character Voices, Inc.
– Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
– Formosa Interactive, LLC
– Insomniac Games, Inc.
– Interactive Associates, Inc.
– Take 2 Interactive Software
– VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.
– WB Games, Inc.

The union plans to picket outside of the Electronic Arts headquarters in Playa Vista, Calif. on Oct. 24.

2. Why are video game voice actors striking?

The main reason why SAG-AFTRA has gone on strike is due to issues with compensation. Publishers were willing to offer a 9 percent wage increase and additional pay of up to $950 based on the amount of sessions an actor would have to perform per title.

SAG-AFTRA refused this deal, saying the “freeloader model” the industry has used needs to stop. The union is seeking a compensation model that pays actors based on a game’s sales. In addition, the union is asking for better working conditions for its actors, including limiting the amount of time actors can spend in a session in order to protect their voices.

3. Why have the union and the industry failed to come to an agreement?

The union’s contract with the video game industry expired in 2014 and negotiations have been ongoing over the past two years. Voice actors have continued to work while talks were being held, but the union decided that the current offer from the industry was not enough to continue negotiations.

“We have proposed a fair payment structure that enables the sustainability of a professional performer community,” SAG-AFTRA stated in a press release. “These employers have unreasonably refused that. The time has come to end the freeloader model of compensation and that is why our members are united behind this cause.”

4. Are all video game voice actors on strike?

According to a report in Deadline,, actors in SAG-AFTRA are only used in about 25 percent of video games.

Notable voice actors in the union include Keythe Farley (God of War, Skylanders), Crispin Freeman (Mafia 3, Overwatch) and Phil La Marr (Infamous, Injustice). Some of the most famous video game voice actors, such as Nolan North and Troy Baker, are not part of the union and are not currently on strike.

5. Will the strike impact games currently in development?

For consumers, the most important question may be “How does this strike affect games currently in production?” Could games like Red Dead Redemption 2 be delayed due to a voice actor strike?

The answer varies, but in most cases, the strike should not impact a developer’s ability to complete a title. First off, the union said the strike covers all games produced by the companies mentioned above that went into production after Feb. 17, 2015. This means voice actors who were hired on for roles in games before that date will continue to work on those titles.

“The strike will have little to no immediate impact on the ability of fans to buy and play the video games they love as the majority of upcoming games already are in production — and the union is not permitted to strike most of the games due to the nature of the “No Strike Provisions” of the interactive media agreement,” Scott J. Witlin, chief negotiator for the Video Game Companies, said in a statement. “The sad part is that the very performers who these Companies value — and who are impacted by the union decision to strike — never got a chance to vote on the Companies’ proposal.”

Additionally, since most video game voice actors are not members of the union, they will continue to work. Developers will likely replace union actors with those who are not members of the union until the strike has ended.

 

Ryan Bloom

Ryan Bloom

Chief Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Ryan Bloom is a writer and avid gamer from Orange County. He received a B.A. in Communications with a minor in American Studies from California State University, Fullerton in 2010. Follow him on Twitter @BloomsTweets.
Ryan Bloom
Ryan Bloom

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