Voice actors for video games now to go on strike after SAG-AFTRA vote; how will it affect the gaming industry?

The overwhelming vote by SAG-AFTRA members means motion capture and voice artists will join their industrial action

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Just as a tentative agreement was reached between studios and the Writers Guild of America on Sunday, SAG-AFTRA has announced that they have voted overwhelming in favour of their industrial action now extending to the video game industry - with a number of voice actors for video game studios now set to join the picket lines.

The strike vote, which saw 98.32% vote in favour of the action, reflects a significant breakdown in negotiations between SAG-AFTRA and video game companies. The guild argues that the companies haven't been willing to address these critical issues adequately, such as safety concerns for motion capture actors and AI’s increasing role in game development, including generating in-game characters' voices and movements.

Following the vote, the President of SAG-AFTRA Fran Drescher said "It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract. The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies — which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly — to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career."

The consequences of the new strike action could include a delay in AAA video games being released, with video game studios constantly looking at having a release in their pipelines, and as such could lead to gamers losing faith in studios or, perhaps even worse, a rushed release to circumvent strike action.

What video game studios will be affected by the new SAG-AFTRA strikes?

According to Deadline, the following ten video game studios could be affected by this new round of industrial action:

  • Activision Productions Inc.,
  • Blindlight LLC,
  • Disney Character Voices Inc.,
  • Electronic Arts Productions Inc.,
  • Epic Games, Inc.,
  • Formosa Interactive LLC,
  • Insomniac Games Inc.,
  • Take 2 Productions Inc.,
  • VoiceWorks Productions Inc., and
  • WB Games Inc.

Will video game developers go on strike also?

The strike is related to negotiations over the Interactive Media Agreement, which covers the working conditions, compensation, and other aspects of voice actors and performers who work on video games.

While there is no unilateral union for video game developers, in the past those programmers have walked out of their respective companies and undertaken strike action, there is yet to be widespread industrial action for developers - however, as Polygon has reported, that might change very soon.

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