SAG-Aftra video game voice actors are considering a strike after failing to reach a collective bargaining agreement with video game studios.
The union proposed a strike vote to its voice actor members in postcards that were sent out Sept. 16, Variety reported. For a strike to be authorized, 75 percent of union members have to vote for it by Oct. 5.
SAG-Aftra and video game studios, including Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard Inc., Walt Disney Co. and Warner Bros. Entertainment, are currently working under an expired contract, despite sit-down negotiations in February and June.
A SAG-Aftra representative declined to comment, but the union’s website highlighted several areas of dispute with video game studios. At the top of the list, SAG-Aftra would like performance bonuses of $3,300 for its members each time an additional 2 million game copies, downloads or unique subscriptions are sold. For example, a bonus would be paid when a download hits 2 million, 4 million, 6 million and 8 million in sales.
Also proposed is limiting to two hours and paying extra for “vocally stressful recording sessions,” adding stunt coordinators when voice actors are used in 3-D motion-capture scenes and forcing studios to name and explain projects to participating voice actors.
SAG-Aftra and the video game studios participating in the negotiation are operating under a mutually agreed media blackout, so many have declined to comment. Without specifically commenting on the negotiations, studio Formosa Interactive, which has done sound production work on “Gears of War: Judgment,” said the discussions represented “a crucial point in the history of our industry.”
“We have been awaiting word from SAG-Aftra that they are ready to return to the bargaining table and hope that they will be willing to sit back down with us in the near future,” William Beaman, Formosa Interactive’s director of studio services, said in a statement. “We will note, however, that a valid collective bargaining agreement remains in place with respect to the overwhelming majority of games currently in production and that SAG-Aftra is not at liberty to strike those games.”
SAG-Aftra’s demands for its voice actor members come as the worldwide video gaming industry is projected to grow 9.4 percent in market value to $91.5 billion in 2015, according to market research firm Newzoo of the Netherlands. Hollywood studios increasingly see video games as an important revenue stream, licensing their intellectual property for use in games and producing titles of their own.
Not to be outdone, traditional screen actors, which SAG-Aftra represents, are also getting into the game. Even Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey took time away from his usual projects last year to voice act for video game “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare.”
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