Union authorizes strike for video game actors over pay, impact of AI

The Screen Actors Guild announced this week that its members have overwhelmingly voted to approve a strike against major video game companies if a new contract is not reached.

The union announced the strike authorization results on Monday, saying that out of the 34,687 ballots cast, 98.3% voted to approve a strike. Just over 27% of SAG’s eligible voters participated.

The gaming business has emerged as the biggest in the entertainment industry, with the global market estimated at just under $200 billion last year and projected to grow to $307 billion before the end of the decade.

The vote doesn’t mean a strike is inevitable. However, if negotiations break down between the actors and the gaming studios, they will be able to walk off the job. 

“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 an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career,” SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher said after the results were announced.

Video game actors, who mostly voice the characters in the games, have been demanding to renegotiate a contract with the gaming studios for almost a year after their contract expired in November 2022. The strike authorization brings another possible strike to the table just as the Hollywood writers’ strike appears to be ending.

Video game actors, much like the striking Hollywood writers and actors, are mainly concerned with workplace protections, better pay and restrictions on the use of artificial intelligence in video game development. Specifically, video game actors are looking for a retroactive 11% wage increase, more on-set medics and restrictions on AI-generated performances.

If a strike does happen, some of the biggest studios will see their products delayed. The studios that would be impacted include Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts, Epic Games, WB Games and more.

Source: WT