Normally, at CES, you expect to see the latest and greatest in technology without all the worries of what’s happening in the Global South to provide them. What you don’t expect is the drama. SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios was more than ready to fill that void.
On Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA announced that it struck a deal with Replica Studios to make it easier for actors to license their voice in video games. What it didn’t do was inform the actors it’s supposed to represent that this deal was happening.
For those who don’t know, SAG-AFTRA is a union that not only represents TV and movie actors. They represent a lot of the voiceover talent you hear in animation and videogames. These voice actors had even authorized a strike in September 2023, although no strike happened. One of the things they were going after for that strike was concerns over AI.
All of that seemed to have fallen by the wayside. The powers-that-be in the union as SAG-AFTRA went for the deal. It looks like the deal was made in the best interest of the union and its members. However, the point is moot if it wasn’t really talked over by the members themselves.
Once the news got out that this had happened, affected actors expressed their concerns.
Since the backlash on Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA and Replica Studios have been sharing more about the agreement. This includes the contract in question. They also released an FAQ. In it, they clarify what they meant in their initial press release. What was initially approved by “affected members of the union’s voiceover performer community” actually meant it was done by the union’s Interactive Media Negotiating Committee.
To be honest, SAG-AFTRA is being really messy here and I can’t help but think that the gaming industry is playing second fiddle here. As gaming is starting to take a lot of eyes and wallets away from TV and movies, it feels like SAG-AFTRA might be showing some true colors here. I feel that all of this should have been discussed with the union before announcements were made.
Union members shouldn’t be left outside the room where it happened.