Guild Board Ejects Video Games Deal

    June 22, 2005
    WebProNews Staff

The board of the Screen Actors Guild overruled its membership and rejected a recently approved contract.

Hollywood voice actors have been an increasing presence in video games. The video game industry earns about as much as the film studios do, $10 billion USD annually. Their big titles have multi-million dollar budgets, and publicity for the biggest titles matches that for summer blockbusters.

But the game companies, while valuing the contributions of Hollywood voice talent, don’t value it enough to agree to contract terms that include residual payments. They describe the voice actor contributions as a small part of a massive development effort, and want to continue paying a flat rate.

After the existing 3 and a half-year agreement between the gaming companies expired, a new agreement that would boost voice actor wages and increase benefit contributions made by the interactive industry to union benefit plans seemed to have been hammered out in early June.

That agreement was going to be accepted with extreme reluctance by SAG and the smaller American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). The latter has already accepted the agreement, which will go into effect July 1.

But SAG, with two factions competing over the agreement, among other issues, could not find the 60 percent approval from its board to accept the new deal.

SAG national executive director Greg Hessinger said in a Hollywood Reporter story: “While the tentative agreement they reached included several key gains, the guild’s national executive committee has made the final determination that this proposal was not enough. We will now explore our options.”

Some contracts for movies destined for a video game tie-in require its actors to provide voice talent to the game. While they will see a pay raise, they won’t see those coveted residuals in this contract.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business. Email him here.