If you don’t pay attention to acting unions (and seriously, why would you?), you may be unfamiliar with the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, or SAG-AFTRA (hereafter referred to as SA). But now, that name is starting to make waves within the gaming industry. Let me give you a bit of background.
What Is The SAG-AFTRA?
Back in the day, SAG and AFTRA were the two major actors' unions in Hollywood. They merged in 2012 to become the SA, which covers pretty much anyone wanting to get into acting. While the organization serves primarily traditional acting/modeling talent, it also reaches the video game industry through voice-over and motion capture talent.
For almost a year now, it has been making noise about taking its actors on strike due to outdated contracts and terms, and that threat is finally coming to fruition. Here is a link to SA’s website, listing its concerns.
According to SA, the negotiations fell through on two major points: Transparency and secondary payments. Safety for actors was, thankfully, not an issue, and stunt coordinators/shorter vocal sessions were quickly agreed upon by both sides.
However, game developers were not willing to concede open information regarding casting, likely due to the possible spoilers that process would reveal to fans, plus the fluidity of game development. They also wanted to offer an upfront bonus to actors instead of royalties, essentially buying out their royalty payments. SA fought back, saying it had to have the royalty options. Thus, with these two issues, the strike began, with SA championing the hashtag #performancematters on Twitter.
What's The Knock-On Effect?
I’ll leave it up to you to fight about who is in the right, but what I’m more interested in is how this will affect the game industry in the near future. Voice acting is usually one of the last things done during game development, so that all scenario writing can be finalized before paying voice actors to come in and record lines. If this strike is going to cause delays, they will be on games coming out sooner rather than later. Holiday releases are likely already finished — especially those to be released in the packed month of November — so the window this will have an impact on, if it affects anything at all, is likely games releasing in early 2017.
It’s also worth noting that only 11 companies are being disturbed by the strike, and they are all major video game publishers. Smaller outfits, including indie developers and middle tier, will likely not be affected by this strike. Here is the complete listing of companies included in the strike:
- Activision Publishing
- Corps of Discovery Films
- Disney Character Voices, Inc.
- Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
- Formosa Interactive, LLC
- Insomniac Games, Inc.
- Interactive Associates, Inc.
- Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.
- VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.
- WB Games, Inc.
While other companies are not explicitly named on this list, they are still likely to be impacted by the strike. Several companies listed, such as Blindlight and Disney Character Voices, outsource their vocal talent to developers on a contractual basis. Indeed, Bethesda has used vocal talent from Blindlight in its games, which means the gaming company could still be impacted.
Taking these considerations into account, a few titles that could possibly see a delay in the next few weeks include:
- Resident Evil 7
- Halo Wars 2
- Mass Effect: Andromeda
- Horizon: Zero Dawn
- Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands
To clarify, delays have not been confirmed; this is purely speculation. But if a video game actor strike does continue for a significant amount of time, we will definitely start seeing delays announced and these games listed are likely candidates for early casualties.
While it has been announced that the strike will only affect games that started production after February 2015, unless the strike goes on for an extended period of time, it’s unlikely we will be privy to any delays that occur due to the strike.
How do you think the strike will affect video games? Answer in the comments below.
Last Boss Gaming
By TB and Crosstix
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