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SAG-AFTRA ups indie dev contract tiers to include $30M game projects

An expanded budget range for game projects lets union actors lend their voice or physical performance to more games from developers outside the triple-A sphere.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

June 27, 2024

1 Min Read
Graphic for SAG-AFTRA showing a hand holding a video game controller.
Image via SAG-AFTRA.

While it's currently negotiating with larger game developers, SAG-AFTRA's updated its deal with smaller indie studios.

The actors union creatd a fourth tier for its Interactive Media Agreement (IMA) wherein developers can access union-backed voice actors in projects budgeted between $15 million and $30 million. Initially, the IMA started with three tiers covering budgets from $250,000 to $15 million.

As with the first three tiers, this fourth one offers AI protections (with informed consent and compensation for digital replicas) to actors for voice and physical performances. Additional pay based on unit sales is also afforded.

Under this new tier, "more projects will benefit from the skills and experience of union performers, and performers will have more opportunities to work with the benefits and protections of a union contract, including important A.I. guardrails," said negotiating chair Sarah Elmaleh.

Chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland added that all four IMA tiers come with much-needed provisions and protections for actors. "It is critical that protections apply to all of our members who perform in video games, including movement performers."

He also noted that should a strike occur, union actors could continue to work with indie developers under this tiered agreement. In other words, actors could strike against triple-A developers while continuing to work with (and promote) their work with smaller teams.

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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