Voice actor strike

  • @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.

  • Global Moderator

    Okey so. I have kinda passively followed this debate for the past month or so. I must say that at first I was in the camp of "ppftt, they prolly earn big bucks anyway so they are a bit of divas even though I know its hard work". However, The more I looked into the facts rather than the "what I think" and especially after listening to the latest podcast and Jones talking about it. I STRONGLY stand on the VA's side. They SHOULD unionise and they should have the rights to work in a safe enviornment and get bonuses if the game is a huge success. VA's ability to preforme a script are much like good acting in a film. If it doesnt work everything around them will crumble.

    Also I think its just about respect as well, if you dont prepare the VAs on what they will do, how will they prepare and know what to expect? If you were to put yourself in the shoes of a VA, how would you feel if you came in to a session and all of a sudden have to do really morbid or sexist things? I mean we are all humans after all, a heads up would be nice.

  • Not much more I can add that hasn't been said. I will say that the most recent podcast was very eye-opening for me, and made me better appreciate the work that goes into games. It also made me so concerned for Brandon's home life right now.

  • Bit of an example here, the end of Titanfall 2, they show each character in the game with

    "Matt Mercer
    Jack Cooper"

    and goes on for almost all of the main characters. I really appreciated them highlighting the voice actors like that.

  • @Stormcrownn Matt Mercer is just awesome in most things he does.

  • At the end of the day i hope the VA's can get what they want out of this. They know their work and its worth more than anyone. However, I wanted to say a few things that i think are interesting points that we could discuss.

    first, being a point that Ian brought up in the podcast saying that the companies not giving them what they want now (the biggest hang up being compensation for so many sales) is not about this issue. Its about what the issue will be afterwards, which is designers demanding more compensation and unionizing.I think Designers probably do need a union, and that for this VA issue to be fixed, the whole industry needs to change. Designers all work crazy amount of hours to bring you your favorite games. There's numerous articles on the subject with the latest being Amy Hennig saying how she has worked no less than 80 hours a week for 10 years. Do these people not deserve compensation for a game that sells well? This leads into my other point.

    Should VA's get compensated for sales? or should they just get payed more? I personally don't know which one is actually best for the industry. I hope that that's something that the whole industry can agree on. The one thing that made me think about this question, and many of you may disagree, is that compensation for sales should heavily weigh on whether or not the talent on the game is bringing people in to play it. For me personally i don't play games because Troy Baker is in it. I honestly don't care. I will however go see a movie because Liam Neeson is in it because i enjoy his movies. I think more people see movies for particular actors then they buy games for VA's. I wonder if this is not understandable stance? More people will play a game because Hideo Kojima or Amy Hennig Designed it before they buy the game for a specific VA. Or how about your favorite artist that brings the art style you like to your favorite game?

    I personally think VA's need everything they are asking for. From what i heard they could definitely be payed more. But what about compensation for sales? Should every designer get compensated for games sold too? How should the industry change to make it fair for all?

  • I really wish VA get the conpensation they deserve but I'm afraid that this leads to game developers unionizing, thus an increase in game development costs making this industry even more risky.

  • @LordBaztion said in Voice actor strike:

    I really wish VA get the conpensation they deserve but I'm afraid that this leads to game developers unionizing, thus an increase in game development costs making this industry even more risky.

    The counter argument to this is that unionising would make working in the games industry a more stable career option with a more diverse, qualified and content workforce that would be able to make better games.

  • @LordBaztion I'll take a few years of publishers being sore losers if it means we can eliminate "crunch time" and give developers a better work environment and the compensation they deserve.

  • @thenerdtheword yes, better but fewer jobs. Some developers will lose their jobs making the career less attractive and publishers most likely will outource game development making games worse (due to the lack of training), less innovative (since it would require safer investments). More likely developers will start more indie studios in which, labor conditions will remain mostly the same.

    @thenerdtheword would you be willing to pay more for your games in order to soften publisher's losses or do you expect them to peacefully take the hit? Personally I would gladly pay more for a game if I'm asured that the developers are properly compensated.

  • @LordBaztion Most developers/publishers are starting to come around to investing in teams and training long term because the increased demands of game dev requires a more skilled workforce. Having guarantees (through unions, favourable contracts, etc.) for people working on a game to work they way they want and still have a life is the best way to make bigger and better games. As someone who works in the industry it would give me piece of mind and allow me to better do my job.

    As for paying more for games I'd be happy to do it but I wouldn't be surprised if publishers end up taking a small hit to profits to help continued growth. Film and TV had to face similar changes and they've worked out ok :P