Gaming Steve

June 09, 2005

Videogame Voice Actors Come Back Down to Earth

It's official: the two unions representing videogame voice actors withdrew their insane demand of receiving residuals based upon sales and have accepted the offer made by videogame publishers. Just yesterday, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) counted the mailed-in ballots from their members and apparently they did not have enough support to authorize a strike. Instead they accepted a three and a half year contract which increases several of their previous benefits.

I am still amazed that the members of these unions really thought that they had a snowball’s chance in hell in getting residuals, considering that the programmers, artists, and people who actually spend several years of their lives creating the game itself rarely, if ever, receive residuals. Voiceover work usually takes a day or less to complete and isn’t exactly the most grueling work in the world. And when was the last time you bought a game specifically for the voiceover? Yeah, that’s what I thought…

Anyhow, here is a list of the increased benefits:

  • An immediate 25 percent increase in minimum wages from $556 to $695 for a four-hour session for up to three voices with increases in subsequent years, bringing the daily rate up to $759.
  • Double time pay after six hours (previously ten hours) for three-voice performers.
  • A 7.5 percent increase in contributions to the unions' benefits plans, bringing the rate up to 14.3 percent.
  • 15-25 percent gains in rates for remote delivery and integration.
  • Payment to actors for reuse of performances in promotional films longer than 12 minutes.
  • A specified rest period for each hour spent recording.
  • Payment window shortened from 30 to 12 business days.
  • Pre-work notification to actors performing in stressful sessions.

The offer still needs approval in committee, but if approved, it will last until December 2008.

Posted by Gaming Steve at 11:00 AM | Comments (8) | Posted to Random | Add this story to

Only takes a day or so? Maybe this is why most voiceovers are horrible and unconvincing.

Posted by kevin at June 9, 2005 11:54 AM

Wow. We're in the wrong business. I can see why people like Cree Summer are doing so many voice jobs...

Posted by Legodragonxp at June 9, 2005 12:30 PM

Yar...Doesn't it feel great to know that you work your ass off every day, and the guys who do three hours of work a week are the ones who get the raise?

Posted by RealmRPGer at June 9, 2005 01:01 PM

Those look like some pretty nice gains at the low end, so whatever demands they made, they ended up coming out of it with some nice trophies.

Not that I know much about acting, but I'm guessing the large majority of actors spend a lot more time and sweat then the few hours it takes in the studio. Probably 90% of people would rather be an actor then whatever they're doing now, so it's likely really competitive, even for stuff like voiceover work. If you're not Samuel L. Jackson it probably takes tons of time to promote your career.

And for those who complain that these guys are demanding and receiving more money/benefits: that's what collective bargaining does for you. As steve has pointed out in several podcasts, the gaming industry is probably in desperate need of more of it.

Posted by bselig at June 9, 2005 05:13 PM

Damn. My engineering department needs a union. I want a 25% raise.

Posted by Zaphod at June 10, 2005 10:49 AM

Actually, in defense of voice actors, they often only work a few times a week ... and sometimes just a few times a month. So even though these amounts might seem like a lot of money, they don't work a standard 40-hour week. My big issue was them receiving residuals before any of the people who actually created the games.

Now, can you just imagine what will happen if/when game designers finally get a union together? Interesting...

Posted by Gaming Steve at June 10, 2005 10:56 AM

Oh poor babies! What a crock of...! They could pull people off of the street who do better jobs than most of those whining nancys.
A break every hour? .... gimme a break. I'm sure there are thousands of gamers and aspiring actors who would do it for free just to be in a game. I woulda fired the whole union and put an ad on

Posted by Deep Lee at June 10, 2005 10:38 PM

NOt only do voice actors only work occassionally, the competition is stiff. Now hollywood actors who do one voice, their own, are in demand for the lead jobs.

Also, consider that a voice actor has to go on dozens of auditions to land a single job. And, voice acting, if done well, isn't just the time in the studio. It's time working on a voice, perfecting it, and being able to use it for a variety of situations.

Think it's easy? Give it a try.

Posted by Frank at December 4, 2005 12:11 PM