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After nearly a year on strike, it looks like voice actors and video game developers have reached an agreement to get folks back in the recording studio to keep working on new games.
This is a tentative agreement at the moment and still needs to be voted on at the Screen Actors Guild American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) national board meeting but, for the time being, it appears that the voice actor strike might be over.
While not all terms of the agreement have been totally fleshed out yet, Polygon is reporting that voice actors look to be receiving consideration for almost all of their initial concerns. From better compensation for their work to additional protections and information before inking a deal, this looks to be a win for all parties involved.
Last October, SAG-AFTRA announced a voice actor strike, specifically against 11 industry companies including Electronic Arts, Activision, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment and Take-Two Interactive. In short, voice actors did not feel they were being properly compensated or taken care of under current contract terms, so their union finally took action when publishers/developers wouldn't budge on the matter.
Based on early reports from the tentative agreement one of the biggest areas of concern, secondary compensation, is being addressed. In short, voice actors felt they deserved a bigger paycheck when a game they worked on became especially successful. The biggest headline maker from this particular corner of the dispute was Michael Hollick, who reportedly made $100,000 for more than a year's worth of work on Grand Theft Auto 4. Despite the fact that the game was a huge success, the voice of Niko Bellic received no residuals. Under new terms, additional compensation will not actually be based on a game's sales, but rather the number of sessions a voice actor works. Gabrielle Carteris, president of SAG-AFTRA, said this would be "significantly larger" payment than what voice actors are currently used to.
The new agreement also contains a clause that states a second sticking point, vocal stress, will continue to be worked on. While they haven't reached an agreement in this area yet, it might take the form of a sort of "hazard pay." In other words, if a job involves a particularly demanding voice or a lot of screaming, the voice actor should probably be paid more for putting their livelihood (their voice) on the line in recordings.
Another big get for the voice actors involves additional information before signing a contract. The video game industry is notoriously secretive, with voice actors frequently expected to agree to a contract without knowing anything about the project they would be working on. Under the new terms, voice actors should be notified of the game's code name while in development, as well as information such as the game's genre and whether or not it will include "unusual terminology," such as profanity, racial slurs or content of a sexual nature.