SAG-AFTRA and game publishers reach agreement after 11-month strike

Nearly one year ago, voice actors within the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) began their strike against numerous video game publishers in an effort to improve safety and monetary compensation. Eleven months later, they reached a tentative agreement to end the video game strike.

The terms of the agreement were reached early Saturday morning and include a new bonus structure that provides extra payment for performers. Additional payment is based on the number of voicing sessions worked during a games development. The first session begins with a $75 payment and moves along toward $2,100 after 10 sessions. This bonus payment is due no later than the release date of the game.

“This is an important advance in this critical industry space. We secured a number of gains including for the first time, a secondary payment structure which was one of the members’ key concerns,” SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris said in a statement. “The courage of our members and their fortitude these many months has been admirable and I salute them. We are always stronger together.”

Before the strike, voice actors may not have known what game they were voicing until the game was released. New transparency provisions require companies to disclose the code name of the project, its genre, whether the game is based on previously published intellectual property, and whether the performer is reprising a prior role. Members of SAG-AFTRA must also be told whether they must use unusual terminology, profanity, or racial slurs. Content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required must also be disclosed.

In addition to the bonus and transparency, the deal also contains an employer agreement to continue working with SAG-AFTRA on the issue of vocal stress. Notable absences in the agreement are several proposals sought by management such as fining performers for being late or distracted at a session. Another would have forced agents to submit voice actors for low-paying “atmospheric voice” sessions or face lines.

The SAG-AFTRA video game strike began on October 21, 2016 and it had most noticeably affected the recent release of Life is Strange: Before the Storm. The tentative contract will next be reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board during its upcoming October meeting.