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As Voice Actors Prepare To Strike, Far Cry 4 Director Expresses Concern Over Residuals

by Mike Futter on Sep 23, 2015 at 08:50 AM

With a voice actors strike looming and a media blackout agreed upon by the union representing talent (SAG-AFTRA) and publishers in effect, comment from the two sides is likely to be in short supply. We know what the union is asking for, and why it has called a vote to strike. Now, we are starting to hear from individual developers.

On Twitter today, Far Cry 4 director Alex Hutchinson expresses a concern with SAG-AFTRA’s demand for back-end payments (also called residuals). These are percentage payments disbursed to actors predicated on performance of the related media (often film or television).

Hutchinson’s comments expose a point of discord between the union’s expectations and reality for developers working for major publishers. In speaking with individuals on the publisher side on background, we learned that it is extremely uncommon for individual developers (not to be confused with studio payments in third-party publishing deals) to receive back-end compensation. 

He also points out that the union plan is fixed at a number of units sold, which has a drastically different meaning based on game budgets. For some, 2 million copies represents extreme profitability. For others, that isn’t enough to break even.

Hutchinson also makes the statement that voice actors demand higher compensation than many others involved in game projects.

As this issue continues toward the end of the SAG-AFTRA voting period on October 5, we’ll continue to update. Ubisoft is one of the many publishers we’ve reached out to for comment on this matter. Should we receive a response, we’ll update.

[Source: Alex Hutchinson on Twitter]


Our Take
Hutchinson’s remarks expose something I suspected would be a sticking point in the union’s demands but could not evidence yesterday. While he is clearly speaking for himself and not on behalf of his colleagues or Ubisoft, it’s not hard to imagine this sentiment echoed around the industry.