According to a Variety report, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA) are nearing the end of their deadline to reach a new agreement with regards to video game work, which could lead to strikes from the two largest actors' unions, if the dispute is not resolved soon.
The current dispute arose when the terms of an existing Electronic Arts-negotiated contract ended on December 31, 2004, and the actors' unions felt that scale actors were being underpaid for their work in a business that currently outgrosses the film industry. Though well-known stars such as Samuel L. Jackson in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
and Ian McKellen in The Lord of the Rings: The Third Age
were appropriately compensated, the unions argued that this came at the cost of fair budgets for lesser-known, everyday voice actors.
Though there is no collective organization on behalf of the game developers, the previous contract negotiated between the SAG/AFTRA and Electronic Arts was generally held as the industry standard. It's not currently clear, in part due to a news blackout in effect for the duration of the talks, which game companies are represented in the negotiations, but executives from a number of different developers and publishers are participants.
The talks have now gone beyond the second deadline extension, with no third extension to come, which is the factor that could trigger a strike on the unions' part. Should that happen, the effects could be wide-reaching -- games both large and small, from Electronic Arts' The Godfather
and From Russia With Love
, to the many voice-acted games localized by Atlus USA and NIS America, could be hit by a work stoppage.
The deadline for the negotiations to complete is April 15, 2005, so more information on the situation should be available in the near future.