A new Bloomberg report reveals CD Projekt Red employed AI to recreate the voice of an actor that passed away after the game's release. Speaking to the outlet, CDPR said it reproduced the performance of Miłogost Reczek (who plays V's confidante and Ripper doc Viktor Vektor) for the recently released Phantom Liberty expansion.
Discussions about AI and its place and video games have been prevalent throughout 2023. In the case of voice work, actors have voiced very real concerns about their performances being used to train algorithms that could cost them work (at best) or be attached to something that could damage the actor's reputation.
CDPR explained that it received express permission from the family of Reczek after his passing in 2021. Localization director Mikolaj Szwed described Reczek's sons as "very supportive." He added that the developer originally opted to hire a new actor to step in, but "didn't like this approach," hence AI.
A different voice actor did the new lines for Viktor, Szwed continued, after which CDPR used a Ukrainian voice-cloning software called Respeecher to make the dialogue sound like Reczek. This method, he said, meant "we could keep his performance in the game and pay tribute to his wonderful performance as Viktor Vektor."
"Reczek was one of the best Polish voice talents, and his performance as Viktor was stellar."
AI performance and consent
In general, creators of AI projects tend to overlook (or outright ignore) getting direct consent from the artist or performer they're drawing on. CDPR seeking permission from Reczek's family is a marked improvement in that regard, but it adds another complicated wrinkle to what's already a complicated matter.
At time of writing, video game voice actors within SAG-AFTRA are negotiating with triple-A game developers, with protections against AI as one of its main sticking points. Both sides may find a way to use this new incident as a case for or against allowing the technology to proliferate in the industry.