After a prolonged strike, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (or SAG-AFTRA) today announced a tentative agreement to end the video game strike that started back in October 2016.
In a press release sent out by the guild the tentative agreement will include an additional pay structure that will give actors a bonus payment based on the number of recording sessions worked on a game, starting at $75 payment for the first session, and reaching $2,100 after 10 sessions. The payment will be due no later than when the release date of a game.
"The bonus payment we have now are significantly larger now than what we had 11 months ago. And the existence of additional payments beyond your session fee is in the video game world for good, both in our high-budget and independent promulgated agreements," said Keythe Farley, chair of the SAG-AFTRA Interactive Negotiating Committee, in a statement released as part of the press release.
There were also changes made in the contracts for transparency with new provisions that requires companies to disclose the code name of a project, which genre the game is, and whether the game is part of a larger franchise and if the actor is reprising their role in said franchise. "Members are also protected by the disclosure of whether they will be required to use unusual terminology, profanity or racial slurs, whether there will be content of a sexual or violent nature and whether stunts will be required," said Chief Contracts Officer Ray Rodriquez, lead negotiator of the new contracts.
Finally, the deal will contain a commitment on the employers to "continue working" with SAG-AFTRA to address health issues on the job such as vocal stress, and keeps out proposals such as provisions that would have "fined performers for being late or distracted at session, another that would have required agents to submit performers for low-paying "atmospheric voice" sessions or face fines, and a possible revocation of their union franchise, and another that would have allowed employers to use their permanent staff to do covered work outside of the collective bargaining agreement."
Unfortunately, this is not exactly what union members were demanding when the strike began. Members asked for actual protection against potential injuries incurred on the job, but the new terms do not guarantee these requests. Instead, the agreement opts for a commitment to keep working out the details in regards to protection against work-related injuries.
The new contract will be reviewed by the SAG-AFTRA National Board during an October meeting.
The strike first began on October 21, 2016 by the SAG-AFTRA union against 11 video game companies including Activision, Disney, EA, Insomniac, Take 2 ,WB, and more, over a failed contract renegotiation in 2015. Several key demands made by SAG-AFTRA included residuals based on video game sales (which was not covered in this new contract), better transparency over roles and conditions, and safety nets to ensure actors can avoid vocal stress.
The strike already affected some of this year's big video game releases such as Life is Strange: Before the Storm, which couldn't re-hire Chloe Price voice actor Ashly Burch due to the strike.
Hopefully the new contract will prove to be a step in the right direction so that actors can provide work to video game projects in a more open and fair environment.