There have been some steps taken to secure a potential strike within the world of interactive entertainment as the Screen Actors Guild?American Federation of Television and Radio Artists has received additional support from performance actors within the gaming industry.
Variety is reporting that 96.5% of those who voted in the union have opted for the strike. The SAG-AFTRA is now looking to head back to the bargaining table to discuss matters with the major AAA publishers and studios within the gaming industry, including heavy hitters like Electronic Arts, Activision, Disney Interactive and Warner Bros Interactive Entertainment.
Previous efforts fell flat, however, as meetings in June and February earlier this year resulted in things falling in.
According to a rep for the union they stated...
It is important to note that the referendum result does not mean that members are on strike, rather, it gives the National Board the authority to declare a strike, […] A 75% ‘yes’ vote was required to give the National Board that authority. With this result in hand, the Negotiating Committee will seek to return to the bargaining table and continue to press for a fair resolution on behalf of performers working in video games.
In a previous report, the union set forward some fairly strict demands from gaming studios, including the performance actors getting back-end pay on games that sell 2 million copies, 4 million copies and 8 million copies. The back-end pay doesn't seem like a bad idea except the people who actually make the game seem like they should be at the forefront of back-end bonus pay before the performance actors, only because even a good performance capture can't save a game with poor mechanics, which is kind of the opposite of a TV show or movie where an actor's performance can in fact save the production with a weak script or poor direction.
The union wanted more protection and stunt coordinators for performance artists, as well as bonuses for performance strain and other “dangerous” work.
While these demands could be met by companies like Electronic Arts, Activision or Ubisoft with ease, adding only moderate bloat to their already expansive budgets, this sort of thing would be a death knell for indie and mid-budget studios who are already working on tight finances. Technically this would affect more mid-budget studios than indies because indies couldn't afford voiceover work anyway. But mid-budget studios looking to take the next step in their production will likely think twice about bringing in someone to do performance capture from the SAG-AFTRA union.
SAG-AFTRA is hoping that the major studios will budge to their demands but so far it doesn't look like they will. Even with a strike the likelihood is that most major publishers will just have their subsidiaries hire outside of the union pool to get what they need.
Some of the notable people supporting the strike includes Jennifer Hale who voiced Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, as well as Adam Jensen himself, Elias Toufexis, from Deus Ex: Human Revolution and the upcoming Deus Ex: Mankind Divided.