NPR LogoWill this issue ever be resolved?
What happens when video games like Halo 3 make video game production companies millions of dollars but their voice actors only see the initial session fee payments? Potentially a strike, that’s what. Check out this interview that aired on NPR on October 11th, 2007 tackling this very touchy subject.

There was an interview October 11th, on NPR (National Public Radio) in the United States hosted by Nate DiMeo featuring an interview about pay for voice actors in video games, the argument being that if blockbuster video games are earning hundreds of millions of dollars, union actors who provide voices for the characters should get a bigger share of the profits, perhaps even residuals, just as their colleagues in television get when television shows enjoy re-runs.

To hear the 3-minute interview, listen at the NPR website and then return to VOX Daily and leave your comments. My thanks to Dan Chien for passing this story along!
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Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Nope, actors should not get royalties for games.
    Unlike TV and movies, the game is not a success or failure because of the voice acting. The game is a success because of the gameplay. Players will not buy a game with bad gameplay no matter how excellent the acting. But they will buy a game with good gameplay and sub par acting. Essentially, good voice acting is important for the craft, but when it comes to sales, it’s inconsequential.
    Instead, actors should know the industry and understand the reach of a particular game they’re working on. Figure out the estimated sales and base buy out rates accordingly.

  2. Not to pick a fight, but I don’t think it’s quite as cut-and-dried as has been suggested. One could conversely argue that TV viewers wouldn’t watch a poorly-written series even if it featured the considerable acting prowess of, say, a Patrick Stewart or Liam Neeson.
    While it’s true that gameplay is paramount among gamers, it’s also a fact that gamers will flock to message boards and groan mightily about bad voice acting when they hear it.
    We voiceover artists keep telling neophytes that voice acting isn’t just doing funny voices, that it’s acting, requiring skillsets shared by stage and screen actors; it only stands to reason that we should be equivalently compensated as the latter group. It’s certainly true that videogames are a different medium from film and TV, but the lines that separate them have been heavily blurred over the last several years.
    In my humble opinion, to suggest that good voice acting plays no part in the success of a game only devalues us, and further perpetuates the conventional wisdom that we’re already “overpaid”.

  3. As the voice of a well known video game from EA Sports, I would have to agree with Jeffrey. The issue really is with the buy-out rate. The production companies truly do try to offer horrifically low and laughable rates and then as one company said: “Well there is so much money going into the graphics etc., that we can’t pay much”. In reality, it’s not a “can’t pay”, rather it’s a “don’t want to pay”.
    There needs to be a balance whereby talent would refuse to take laughable rates and production companies be a more “honest” in their offerings. Both of these, I’m afraid, don’t happen. Until voice actors STAND…ALL OF US…stand and reject foolish rates that diminish our collective and individual value, we will be faced with issues like this more and more… after all, why pay more when you don’t have to. However if we stand our ground, we can help reluctant production companies bring the scales a bit more into balance.
    I can’t stress enough: THE VALUE OF VOICEOVER IS IN THE END USE OF THE PRODUCT….. NOT HOW LONG THE RECORDING IS. Thus, Mr. Kafer’s remarks are accurate.
    Brian in Charlotte

  4. The argument is just an off-shoot of the union/non union question that each side asks itself after a particularly slow week (the grass is always greener…)
    Assuming that non union workers are very unlikely to get residuals, the union has to establish more equitable terms for video games. TV viewer ship is down…. waaaaay down. It’s games and internet that are greatly responsible for the decline.
    Therefore, production of programming, content and advertising will be heading that way (and have been for some time); so its incumbent upon the union to set better basic terms on residuals now as even for the best voice actor (who is not a marketable Hollywood name) is unlikely to be able to negotiate a deal for points on a video game’s sales.
    Best always,
    – Peter

  5. Hey guys,
    All wonderful comments – thanks for sharing your opinions.
    As you know, there is an option to “Digg” the articles you read on VOX Daily. Someone at the Digg site recently left a comment on our post there to the effect that if voice actors are going to make a fuss about payment, developers should just go back to doing the voice acting…
    What say you, ladies and gents? You can show your support for the voice acting cause by Digging the article (voting) and or leaving a comment. To do so at Digg, you need to have an account there. Registering for one is free.
    Check it out here:


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