Howard Fabrick, the lawyer representing the game publishers, says the union actors are asking for more than they deserve. According to Fabrick, the sessions to record voice acting in games are mere blips in the thousands of man-hours put into the development of games.
"[The voice actors] have no leverage," Yankee Group analyst Mike Goodman told the Associated Press. "In 99 percent of all games, the voice actors are irrelevant. You replace one voice actor with another nonunion actor, and no one will know the difference."
Earlier in the month, SAG national president Melissa Gilbert noted, "[Game] producers rejected even a modest proposal of a residual structure that would cost them less than 1 percent of the revenue generated on only the highest-grossing games. There is only one way to describe their position: completely unreasonable and lacking in any appreciation of the contributions made by actors to the enormous profits enjoyed by this industry. If producers want their games to maintain a professional quality, they need to offer an agreement that shows greater respect to the professional performers who make these games come alive."
Although I cut up the Gamespot article a bit, the bottom line of the deal is that SAG and AFTRA (the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) are voting on whether or not to strike unless they can work out a deal with the game industry to provide residual payments for voice actors that on high volume selling games.
Having worked in the entertainment industry, I found this recent development to be quite comical. Flame me all you want, but it's my opinion that a large number of the Unions that govern the film and television industries have outgrown their initial purpose, (to protect the worker from unfair, unsafe, and unjust work practices) and are now out just for cash and see how much shit they can get away with. This is a prime example of just that. If the artists writers and programmers for video games aren't getting residuals (correct me if I'm wrong about that), why the hell should voice actors that generally contribute such a small piece to the overall product get a chunk of the back-end profits? Are they fucking insane? They just don't understand how minimal their contribution is in the overall game making process. So some random dude adding grunts groans and ten lines of victory dialog would get extra cash for every unit sold, while the animator that spent hundreds of hours refining the style and movements of that character (the part that people pay to experience) sees nothing? The unions just see an industry making big money like film and TV and figure that the same rules and conditions should carry over. That's just crazy talk.
My biggest problem with this is the precedent it might set. Are stunt men (a SAG union position) going to then ask for residuals for motion-capture work since their fellow union members are getting it also? This could spiral into a much bigger issue that makes game development an even more expensive/complicated process than it already is.
Now don't get me wrong I don't hate the concept of unions, but I think that the entertainment unions have just gone too far with many of their bullshit rules and I'd hate to see that type of nonsense spread into the gaming industry. If anyone should be making big money off of royalties and residuals it should be the artists and programmers who devote years of their lives to developing a single product, not some asshole who comes in for a few days to open his mouth. Voice acting is an important component to games, but it's generally only the icing on the cake that is final product.