SAG-AFTRA has continued to make statements and offer their wisdom on the tech and game industry when it comes to voice actors and residual compensation, making a somewhat cogent point about the Call of Duty series in light of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare recently releasing for Xbox One, PS4 and PC.
Blues reposted the entire statement, which explains that since 2003 the Call of Duty franchise has amassed more than $15 billion in revenue and voice actors have only been paid 0.03% of it… according to SAG-AFTRA’s own figures, of course.
SAG-AFTRA president, Gabrielle Carteris, explained…
“SAG-AFTRA understands that the great majority of work done on the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise was done by committed teams of animators, coders and developers — workers who were often required to put in twelve-fourteen hour days, seven days a week for months at a time,”
“While we applaud these herculean efforts, we believe that the culture of exploitation that exists in all aspects of the video game industry must come to an end.”
It’s true that a large part of the appeal of Call of Duty‘s campaign mode is in the performance capture and Hollywood-sized set pieces. A lot of hard work from voice and performance capture artists goes into bringing the cinematic elements of Call of Duty to life.
However… majority of video games are not Call of Duty. Majority of video games (other than Battlefield, GTA and FIFA) don’t make Call of Duty money. This would mean smaller budget games using union members would have to account operating costs for voice actor residuals, assuming a game hits multi-million selling milestones.
While the argument for residuals has been the stopping point with the negotiations between publishers and SAG, the real issue is that most people are saying that if anyone deserves residuals, it’s the game developers. However, that would mean the developers would have to unionize. It’s a topic that’s been avoided by a lot of publishers and one that they really don’t want to have to deal with given the way the business works, and how they can currently exploit contractors and independent workers within the industry.
For now, it seems like there’s going to continue to be a standstill between publishers and SAG, but that’s mostly because the publishers hold all the cards and they can very well dip into other talent pools outside of the union if they have to.