Video Game Voice Actors' Union (SAG-AFTRA) Strike

On October 21st, 2016, SAG-AFTRA, the union that supports video game voice and motion capture actors, went on strike against 11 American video game developers and publishers. Contract renegotiations, underway since February, 2015, had failed, and union members voted to authorize a strike by a margin of 96% in October of 2015.  At stake are the issues of residuals or secondary payments for successful games, protections to mitigate against vocal stress and injury, and increased transparency from games companies about the titles actors would be contributing to before contracts are signed.

Official SAG-AFTRA Union Communication

Video Game Companies' Initial Proposal

Public discussions about the strike on Twitter can be found under the hashtags #PerformanceMatters and #Iamonboard2015.

The strike has implications for the larger game development community, particularly the contentious issue of 'residuals', as it's framed by games companies, or 'secondary compensation', as it's framed by the union. The union is asking for bonus payments for its members when a game sells 2 million copies, or reaches 2 million unique subscribers. Developers, currently without a union, do not receive such payments for their work on a game, despite their longer-term involvement in its production. As such, if this demand is achieved it could set a precedent for developers to make similar requests.

A strong overview of these intersections across worker communities can be found here:

Responses from the video game voice actors community

Commentary prior to strike vote in October 2015

As of October 2016, games companies and union members had agreed to terms that included an immediate 9% pay increase for actors.  The union, however, rejected this because the deal failed to address the other concerns, in particular, the issue of residuals or secondary compensation. As of October, 2016 workers were on strike.

Management was particularly frustrated with union representatives for not bringing the offer to members for a vote. There are reports of games companies launching a website,, to discredit union leadership and drive a wedge between members and the bargaining team. This website has since been taken down, but reports of it can be found at the links below:

General commentary after SAG-AFTRA announces 'interactive strike' and strike begins in October, 2016

Video games have long production schedules and as a result the impact of the strike on specific AAA titles is not expected to be felt immediately. Union representatives expect that the strike will be long. As of April 23, 2017 the strike has been ongoing for 183 days, and is now the longest strike in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.

A report from Playstation Lifestyle states that some games companies have agreed to the terms of secondary compensation or residuals, although it suggests that AAA are refusing to budge.

Reports as of June 9th, 2017 suggest that both SAG-AFTRA and games companies are willing to return to the bargaining table after eight months of striking.