Voice actor strike



  • So I just listened to Steve Bloom (Spike from Cowboy Bebop and so much more) make total sense of the voice actor strike. Check it out here.

    Is there anything we can do as gamers to try to encourage game publishers to treat all their employees more fairly and with respect?



  • Steve Blum has one of the best voices in the industry, that voie clip was cozy and informative. The only thing I guess we can do it complain about it on social media and such. I hate to say that, but that's where they tend to listen if we aren't speaking with our cash.
    What they're asking is not too much, it's resonable and I agree with them.



  • The more successful the product the more the workers should be rewarded, it's just common sense. All the other proposals about vocal stress and basic knowledge of a project are standard in other industries and should have been implemented years ago.

    There's still work that needs to be done, crunch time in development is stressful and exploitative. The solution is unionisation of the employees and solidarity from us lot.



  • This strike will do nothing, apparently only very few projects will be actually affected by it aka bad timing on their end.
    But this is also the best chance for new talents to shake up the same old same old english VA's and give them a run for their money.



  • Good old Steve teaching me what is what. Hopefully something good comes from this! Though I'm not sure how since it isn't a complete and total strike of everything.


  • Banned

    The video game industry is behind every other industry?

    NO WAY!

    Hey guys, remember when movie studios didn't give a FUCK about animal safety?



  • @Art said in Voice actor strike:

    The video game industry is behind every other industry?

    NO WAY!

    Hey guys, remember when movie studios didn't give a FUCK about animal safety?

    Are voice actors lower on the scale of importance than animals?

    It is a crummy situation but hopefully something will come of it.



  • Some of my favorite games are largely in part to the performances given by voice/mocap actors. I don't think anybody can argue that David Hayter help didn't define the character of Solid Snake. Same with Nolan North, Tara Strong, etc etc so on and so on.

    Hopefully they get what they deserve.



  • If it gives other people a chance to break in to the industry then that would be excellent. A scenario where after this a bunch of the basement VOs out there can actually compete with the big names for good roles and good money makes me optimistic for the quality of voice in games as a whole.



  • I've been voice acting for several years now, so this has been particularly interesting to me (Guess I shouldn't be auditioning for anything gaming related right now, huh?). A lot of people don't understand or appreciate what goes into voice acting so it's difficult to voice your complaints about the industry without getting laughed at. People think you just walk into a booth, make funny voices for a few hours, and then get paid. Companies think that anyone can do it as well, evidenced by the amount of times they replace actual voice actors with celebrities who wouldn't know the first thing about voice acting.

    It's not easy. It IS a lot of fun and when you're working with the right people it doesn't feel like work at all. But that doesn't mean voice actors should be treated like garbage and disposable workers. Screaming for four hours is absolutely draining. It can feel like you just ran a twenty mile marathon. I think a lot of the demands the union is making are absolutely fair. Unfortunately, I doubt many companies will care about hiring a bunch of random replacement "actors" of the street. They don't respect voice actors because they know they don't have to. I know a lot of gamers DO care (like you fine allies here), but the majority of people spending money on games don't voice any complaints about bad voice acting or bad business practices in regards to voice acting. Not enough to make any real changes for the actors. Hopefully that changes though.

    Jim Sterling has had a few excellent videos on this subject. I recommend them to everyone here.

    Here's the latest one:
    Youtube Video



  • It seems like there's legitimate concerns brought by this union of voice actors. I was also a little surprise to see Insomniac Games on the list from a related article. Haven't followed IG in years. But they were suppose to be a reputable company. But I guess Ted Price treats VA as expendable for the most part.

    Idk how successful could this turn out. Story telling is not a strength of the gaming industry. And for me personally, voice acting has to be really bad for me to take notice. It could back fire on this union as it can open opportunities for unknown VA who are not unionized.



  • @-Jak- said in Voice actor strike:

    Idk how successful could this turn out. Story telling is not a strength of the gaming industry. And for me personally, voice acting has to be really bad for me to take notice. It could back fire on this union as it can open opportunities for unknown VA who are not unionized.

    I have the complete opposite opinion in regards to the quality of voice acting to most it seems :fearful:
    This is a relatively positive place on the internet so I kind of don't want to go into specifics on the extremity of my opinions since that would be a very silly thing to do, but I'll try to give some sort of a counterpoint to the whole thing as a Devil's Advocate I guess. I mean all of us just nodding our heads at the obvious "the video game industry is a bit screwy" wouldn't be much of a discussion :slight_smile:

    (So yeah Devil's Advocate pls don't hate)
    Why exactly should I be paying my voice actors more money than what they're getting right now (unless they're paid something ridiculously low)? Sure, established characters are hard to "replace", but currently the entire business of voice acting is swarmed with supply. The Stanley Parable for instance uses a complete no name guy as its narrator and he absolutely KILLS the role. As far as quality assurance is concerned, there isn't much of a gap between the paid professional with hundreds of roles to their name and my mate Stuart who uses a cardboard box with padding that only fits his head as his sound booth, so why should I, as a hypothetical game dev, be expected to meet the demands of a bunch of successful people who at the very least have their foot in many doors when I can just as easily grab someone auditioning in Australia over the internet for a fraction of the cost? Indie games in the past 5-6 years have proven that you don't need Nolan North physically in your office acting out roles, because Schmolan Schmorth is in all actuality a pretty damned good VA as well.



  • @Mr-M Just to address a portion of what you bring up, the strike is about more than money. They're asking for better treatment in many different ways. Reducing the amount of hours you work during stressful acting is one example. You can scoff and say "What's so stressful about voice acting"? But try standing in a booth for four hours straight screaming at the top of your lungs for Call of Duty. You can permanently damage your vocal cords... and that's kind of a big deal for people that rely on their voice for a living.

    Some companies don't even list the voice actors in the credits. I remember playing Soul Calibur V and recognizing a few voices but the publisher didn't give them any credit at all. That's bullshit. Also, you can get an amazing performance from a newcomer like you said in The Stanley Parable and you don't NEED full motion capture to craft an amazing experience... but look at The Last of Us. Look at the Uncharted series. Those games ride on the backs of those performances. The Last of Us had a pretty conventional story but it was acted out so well that it elevated the material. We can discuss the positives and negatives of the types of voice acting used and how necessary they are but at the end of the day it doesn't change the problems ALL voice actors face in the industry. There are examples of the "little guy" doing fine work for a fraction of what the union is asking for. Does that mean it's fair to pay them like shit? Because they can get away with it?

    Why did they replace Mordin's voice actor in Mass Effect 3? One of the most recognizable voices in Mass Effect 2 and they replaced him without even talking to him. Could it be because they didn't want to pay him a decent wage? Kind of like how they replaced the voice of David Sarif in Mankind Divided because they only offered the original actor $200 for the entire roll (It wasn't a small part). This kind of treatment is awful and while I'm not going to try and dictate what's a "fair" wage for voice actors... if the union can get some stability and credit where credit is due out of this strike... that can't be a bad thing.



  • Again gonna just be Devil's Advocate. I very much agree with a lot of the things you're saying, I'm just trying to tap into the inner Konami because FucKonami

    @Light said in Voice actor strike:

    @Mr-M Just to address a portion of what you bring up, the strike is about more than money. They're asking for better treatment in many different ways. Reducing the amount of hours you work during stressful acting is one example. You can scoff and say "What's so stressful about voice acting"? But try standing in a booth for four hours straight screaming at the top of your lungs for Call of Duty. You can permanently damage your vocal cords... and that's kind of a big deal for people that rely on their voice for a living.

    Some companies don't even list the voice actors in the credits. I remember playing Soul Calibur V and recognizing a few voices but the publisher didn't give them any credit at all. That's bullshit.

    I'm not gonna grab anything off this part since I'm a human being and have a soul and trying to DA that might get me thrown in hell. But yeah I did know it's about more than money, but also the companies who are in that group are highly likely to not give a damn at all. remember these guys still believe in "crunch time".

    Why did they replace Mordin's voice actor in Mass Effect 3? One of the most recognizable voices in Mass Effect 2 and they replaced him without even talking to him. Could it be because they didn't want to pay him a decent wage? Kind of like how they replaced the voice of David Sarif in Mankind Divided because they only offered the original actor $200 for the entire roll (It wasn't a small part).

    But on the same boat, did that have any effect whatsoever on the sales, or even reviews? Giving Dante in DMC a different face and haircut caused more outrage than changing a voice ever will. Cole McGrath changed from Infamous 1 to Infamous 2 and no one cared at all. David Hayter got kicked to the curb for the dude from 24 and Metal Gear Solid V still sold 6 million copies with top scores out the wazoo. In the eyes of the business, so long as you're on par you're able to replace, and be replaced by anyone else. Voice actors have never been a sales draw, and as someone else in this thread has said before, you have to be pretty bad for the general public to even notice.

    The thing is that you can take away a LOT of the name voice actors and still have enough to fill a good game. The well goes deep, and new faces get exposed via the indie scene every day. That's why they pay terrible money, that's why companies won't care, and that's why there hasn't already been a resolution.
    God it's hard to type all that, genuinely didn't like writing that one up.



  • @Mr-M

    "David Hayter got kicked to the curb for the dude from 24 and Metal Gear Solid V still sold 6 million copies"

    I'd like to pretend that it does affect sales but at the end of the day the silent majority DOESN'T care. At least, they don't care enough to stop buying the games from publishers that treat their voice actors like revolving doors. It's a sad state of affairs.

    The optimist in me... or maybe pessimist... I guess it depends on what side you're on... wants to believe that, while it might not immediately affect sales to treat voice actors like garbage and replace them on a whim... it WILL catch up to these publishers. Did it hurt the sales of MGSV? Maybe it would have sold more if David Hayter was still playing Snake. But you're right, it still sold a lot regardless. However, it was a pretty big black mark against the game in the eyes of Metal Gear fans. I honeslty didn't pick up the game myself and MGS3 is one of my favorite games of all time. I'm sure I'm not entirely alone. And I'm probably not alone in having no desire to support the Metal Gear Solid franchise any further.

    While Konami certainly didn't need any help in alienating people from their products... the David Hayter thing definitely added to the negativity surrounding them today. It made me look at Kojima himself with a little less respect as well. He wanted a "Hollywood Actor" to provide the voice of a beloved character and it turned out horribly. You can't expect a famous person to be able to deliver solid voice work because they're famous. It doesn't work like that.

    Every time a relatively high profile actor gets replaced... it makes waves. But those waves subside and people still buy the game. I'm more cautious about supporting Bioware after they replaced Mordin's actor for no reason beyond profit. I think it adds up the more these publishers do things like that. And now with this strike going on, the public outcry might start gaining enough momentum to at least make some lasting changes in the way voice actors are treated. That's the best I can hope for as a realist.

    While I understand that this is a business I have to wonder if replacing these actors is actually saving any of these publishers money in the long run. We'll never know, but perhaps MGSV would have sold a hundred thousand more copies with David Hayter in the game. Would that really not be a better alternative from a purely business perspective? You don't get any negative press and your fans will be more inclined to support the game and any future games. I feel like companies are only thinking of the short term profits and not seeing the long game at all. This isn't exclusive to the games industry either.



  • @Light Amateur or professional?

    Anyway, it's easy to be a callous moron about unions. It's easy to ignore attempts to unionize, ignore the value or worker's rights, and ignore the common-sense reforms these grassroots activist actors are proposing. I don't really have much more of a point than that.

    I'd also like to ask about the list of boycotted publishers:

    • Activision Publishing, Inc.
    • Blindlight, LLC
    • Corps of Discovery Films
    • Disney Character Voices, Inc.
    • Electronic Arts Productions, Inc.
    • Formosa Interactive, LLC
    • Insomniac Games, Inc.
    • Interactive Associates, Inc.
    • Take 2 Interactive Software
    • VoiceWorks Productions, Inc.
    • WB Games, Inc.

    Namely, are these the only publishers actors have problems with? Are companies like Ubisoft and Bethesda / Zenimax good with regard to voice actors, or do they just use hiring contractors listed here? (I know Brian Delaney wasn't aware he was working on Fallout 4 for like a year of recording!?)



  • It feels strange plugging anything Easy Allies related on an Easy Allies forum, but definitely check out the podcast this week. As expected, the fellas dive into this topic.

    Whereas you can always say the goal of most businesses is to maximize profit wherever possible, I think that's missing the mark. Yes, you can't be a business if you don't earn profit, but I think it's fair to say that if these publishers met the demands given to them, they would still be profitable. Public opinion is much more easily swayed these days, thanks to the influx of information most of us have available. It's damaging to their public image to have a strike like this occur and I'm willing to guess it will be over sooner, rather than later. Willing to hope, might be more accurate though.



  • @Haru17 I'd consider myself a part-time voice actor, if anything. I've had numerous paying jobs but it's not currently how I earn my living. Done my fair share of "amateur" work too though. My favorite was probably voicing characters for the popular Skyrim mod "Falskaar".

    I'm actually curious as to why those specific companies are being boycotted as well. Perhaps they're just the biggest fish or maybe there's some sort of technicality that limits the number of companies that can be boycotted at a time? I honestly have no idea. It seems odd to suggest that other companies are saints in regards to treating their actors well while only these listed are problematic.



  • I play FFXIV ARR and when they changed the voice of Alphinaud from a very dignified diplomatic type to OY GOV WATCH YA MOUF OR ILL BASH YA EAD IN I SWEAR ON ME MUM I was a little taken back by it.
    Hoping they don't change it again for Bloodstorm.



  • @Mr-M I do agree supply and demand is a key factor in compensation packages. And its why I do think this can backfire.

    I do think also its reasonable to request better working conditions. Gaming companies are not going to compensate for lost wages and career options. If a VA loses their ability to VA.