Voice Actors Go On Strike Against 11 Major Video Game Publishers

Image courtesy of Katherine McAdoo

After failing to come to terms with a coalition of 11 video game companies, including big names like Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., thousands of voice-over actors are now officially on strike.

The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Arts (SAG-AFTRA) had set 12:01 a.m. on Oct. 21 as the start for the strike if the two sides hadn’t come to terms in their dispute over pay, Venture Beat reports.

“A last attempt to reach an agreement with video game employers this week was not successful,” the union said Friday. “Management remains unwilling to agree to fair terms that would bring the interactive contract into the 21st century.”

Actors want part of the revenue from game sales, as well as the industry standard baseline rate of around $825 for a four-hour recording session.

“In this industry, which frequently uses performers and understands the intermittent and unpredictable nature of this type of work, fair compensation includes secondary payments when games hit a certain level of success with consumers, not simply higher upfront wages,” the union said in a statement. “Secondary compensation is what allows professional performers to feed their families in between jobs.”

Actors on strike are expected to picket outside EA on Monday at its Los Angeles studio, the union said Friday.

“We have proposed a fair payment structure that enables the sustainability of a professional performer community,” the union says. “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.”

A spokesman for the companies said that no meetings are yet scheduled between the negotiators.

“We had hoped this would be successful, but union leadership left mediation without providing a counteroffer. We urged union leaders to put the package to a vote of their membership, but union leaders refused,” said Scott J. Witlin of the law firm of Barnes & Thornburg, the chief negotiator for the companies, in a statement.

As for whether or not video game production will be affected by the strike — it’s unclear how many of the nearly 5,000 voice actors who specialize in the industry are participating in the walkout — that seems unlikely, Witlin said.

“Given the long production cycle for a console game, the strike would have to go on for a very long time for it to have an impact,” he noted.

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