SAG-AFTRA Unveils New Agreement for Low-Budget GamesReported on Monday, October 29th 2018
SAG-AFTRA have revealed their new Low Budget Video Game Agreement, which is a contract to be signed by developers with a production budget under $1.5 million.
The contract has been in the works since 2016, and was championed by such voice actors as Sarah Elmaleh, Crispin Freeman, Jennifer Hale, and Courtenay Taylor. The contract allows unionized actors "to work at competitive rates affordable to the lowest budget productions".
The full contract is viewable here on SAG-AFTRA's website. Game news site Gamasutra have provided a summary of some of the details within.
"A union actor can be hired for $825.50 to give a four hour voice session or eight hour motion-capture session. Alternatively, the pay schedule allows for a two hour session for $412.75, which is a notable change from the standard agreement and its four hour minimum. This was implemented as a way of accommodating the smaller size and scope of indie games."
"In addition to these rates, a 15.5 percent contribution to the AFTRA health and retirement fund is required. That guaranteed contribution illustrates why such an agreement might be attractive to actors, ensuring every hour of their work contributes to both their healthcare and a pension."
"Further, for vocally stressful work, the agreement also requires that a two hour session pay $825.50, with a mandated break after the first hour."
"The secondary payment schedule for indies in the new agreement mandates that profits be shared with the vocal talent at certain generous thresholds, starting at 500,000 sales/unique subscriptions, when an additional $206.38 must be paid at every 500k interval up to two million sales/subscriptions."
Gamasutra also observes, "The new agreement also provides a smoother onramp into the union for newer, less established talent who might only be able to work on small and independent projects, lessening the risk of a two-tier system where only the lavish funding of a AAA studio could afford talent like Elmaleh’s or Jennifer Hale’s. It is also a sign of flexibility; the agreement is responding to the shape of the game industry as it is, in its diversity, rather than a 20th century model of a Nintendo-sized corporation making mass market games. There was already some precedent and scope for this with how SAG-AFTRA handled film projects that weren’t Hollywood blockbusters, but now video games have caught up."
Finally, noted indie developer Rami Ismail had this to say to the outlet. "Independent development in all its forms thrives on access to technology, tools, and talent. I can’t wait to see what games get dreamt up with the full range of acting talent now easily available and within reach."