TFWIKI.net stands in support of the SAG strike against numerous video game developers over voice actors’ unfair wages and unaddressed safety concerns. A great many actors who have graced Transformers over the last 30 years are fighting for the betterment of everyone in their field.
“A trail of bodies? Prison break where Loki was held? It had your name written all over it,” Thor hissed. His eyebrows were closely knitted together in frustration.
You maintained your smirk and sarcastic attitude, “Glad to know you see me where ever you go, big bro! The real king sends his regards by the way. It would’ve been so much more fun with him in charge.”
Stuff happened while I was out, part 2: SAG-AFTRA Strike
The second big thing that happened while I was hiking was that SAG-AFTRA, the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, has chosen to go on strike because they could not reach an agreement with a confederation of interactive game publishers. This has been brewing for a while, and I am fairly certain it is because of a combination of several factors and imperfect information on both sides. This is probably going to be a pretty lengthy overall discussion, so will break into multiple pieces for brevity’s sake. So let’s try to get into it.
Who is SAG-AFTRA, and why are they striking?
SAG-AFTRA is basically the union that represents all Hollywood (and TV and radio) actors and performers. The voice actors are a part of the union and have a set of demands that the publishers are unwilling to meet. The publishers also have a list of demands that the union members are unwilling to meet. Because neither will give, the union has decided to strike in hopes of forcing the publishers to accede to their demands.
Who are the publishers involved?
The strike directly names these entities:
Activision Publishing Inc.; Blindlight, LLC; Corps of Discovery Films; Disney Character Voices, Inc.; Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.; Formosa Interactive, Inc.; Insomniac Games, Inc.; Interactive Associates, Inc.; Take 2 Interactive Software; VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.; and WB Games, Inc. However, some of these entities like Blindlight, Formosa Interactive, and VoiceWorks Productions are like voice talent booking agencies that connect game studios and publishers with voice talent. Notably absent from the list are Ubisoft, Microsoft, and all Japanese publishers (Nintendo, Sega, Sony, Capcom, Konami, Bandai-Namco, etc.) and dev studios. Most of these have contracted through intermediaries like Blindlight in the past, but nothing prohibits them from going a new direction.
What games are affected by the strike?
Any game that was began production before February 17th, 2015 is unaffected by the strike. Anything that has spun up since is affected by the strike. Games like Mass Effect: Andromeda, Horizon Zero Dawn, Agents of Mayhem, Injustice 2, Prey, etc. are probably all safe. Games by Japanese publishers like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild are safe. What isn’t safe are titles beyond 2017 that you haven’t heard of yet. Chances are pretty good that you, as a player, won’t see any real effect for this strike unless it continues on for years.
What happens to games if the publisher gives in?
Well, the union gets more money and better working conditions and they are generally happier. This also means that the cost of game production will rise, so (because we can’t raise prices on games) we’ll have to cut elsewhere. This probably means that most games will scale back on the number of voiced roles in them to maintain their voice budget in order to accommodate the higher costs involved, but it is also possible that the higher costs will result in cutting elsewhere - fewer quests or other content. Remember, we only have so much budget to distribute. A bigger piece for the voice actors means less to go around for other things. It’s going to come out of the development budget somewhere else.
If you think that the publishing executives are the ones who are going to make up the difference by cutting their own compensation packages, you’re crazy.
What happens to games if the union gives in?
Things go back to the way they have been.
I heard from some famous voice actor that …
Yes. SAG-AFTRA has mobilized as many famous people as it can in order to try to get the public to sympathize with them. The publishers and devs aren’t talking about their side, but most of the public don’t know (or care) who we are, and thus won’t feel particularly sympathetic. Expect the publishers to only issue prepared press releases, while the union members will try to get on camera and in the news as much as possible.
So… what exactly is the union demanding? What about the publishers?