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SAG-AFTRA Members Vote In Favor Of Video Game Strike. What This Means For Video Game

SAG-AFTRA Members Vote In Favor Of Video Game Strike. What This Means For Video Game

It was nearly a unanimous vote when members of SAG-AFTRA cast their votes on the authorization of a video game strike. The vote will authorize the union’s governing body to declare a strike if their demands are not met by the video game publishers they are currently negotiating with. If that happens, it will compound the woes in the entertainment industry which is already affected by the union’s strike against film and TV studios.

SAG-AFTRA Members Vote In Favor Of Video Game Strike. What This Means For Video Game
Photo credit: SAG-AFTRA

According to the union, 98.32% of its members voted in favor of the strike. To be clear, the vote doesn’t mean that SAG-AFTRA has declared a strike on video game companies. Rather, it authorizes the union leaders to declare a strike if the next round of negotiations on the Interactive Media Agreement that governs actor’s work on video games doesn’t end favorably.

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At least 34,687 members of the union which represents 27.47% of eligible voters cast their votes in the voting round. The signatory video game companies that are currently in agreement with SAG-AFTRA include:

  • Activision Productions Inc.
  • Blindlight LLC
  • Disney Character Voices Inc.
  • Electronic Arts Productions Inc.
  • Formosa Interactive LLC
  • Insomniac Games Inc.
  • Epic Games
  • Take 2 Productions Inc.
  • VoiceWorks Productions Inc.
  • WB Games Inc.

The initial agreement was extended to November 2022—and SAG-AFTRA believes it is time to review the agreement to reflect prevailing realities. According to SAG-AFTRA, the companies have refused to address critical issues that affect their members the most, including wage review in line with inflation, the use of artificial intelligence, and basic safety procedures.

The next round of negotiations is scheduled to be held from September 26 to 28. Union leaders hope that heading to the meeting with the leverage of a strike authorization will force the companies to shift ground significantly on the critical issues they raised.

What impact will the SAG-AFTRA strike on interactive media have on video games?

SAG-AFTRA Members Vote In Favor Of Video Game Strike. What This Means For Video Game
Photo credit: SAG-AFTRA

If eventually SAG-AFTRA calls a strike on video games, actors under the union will be barred from partaking in video game productions till further notice. Earlier this week, writers reached a tentative agreement that will likely see the end of the five-month-old strike with the film industry.

“It’s time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract,” said Fran Drescher, President of SAG-AFTRA. “The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies—which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly—to give our performers agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career.”

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It is highly unlikely that a SAG-AFTRA strike on interactive media will affect the release date of any game already scheduled for release this year. However, it will affect how the publishers will promote the game going forward—especially games that have characters voiced by actors under the SAG-AFTRA union.

A SAG-AFTRA strike will likely prevent actors from promoting such games—just like they were barred from red carpets and movie promotions. Interestingly, there has been an influx of A-list actors into the video game industry. From Dave Bautista in MK1 to Idris Elba and Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty, the list has exploded in recent years.

Idris Elba in Phantom Liberty

The spokesperson representing the video game companies said they would “continue to negotiate in good faith” and hope to come to a consensus that “reflects the important contributions” of video game performers.

“We have reached tentative agreements on over half of the proposals and are optimistic we can find a resolution at the bargaining table,” they said.

Do you think the SAG-AFTRA strike on interactive media will be avoided? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.

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