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The Almighty Buck Entertainment Games

Video Game Actors Say They Don't Get Their Due 573

Dekortage writes "The New York Times reports today about Michael Hollick, the actor who provided the voice of Niko Bellic in Grand Theft Auto IV. Although the game has made more than $600 million in sales for Rockstar Games, Hollick earns nothing beyond the original $100K he was paid. If this was television, film, or radio, Hollick and the other GTA actors could have made millions by now. Hollick says, 'I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games. Yes, the technology is important, but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies.' Is it time for video game actors to be treated as well as those in other mediums?"
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Video Game Actors Say They Don't Get Their Due

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  • by suso ( 153703 ) * on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:36AM (#23503536) Homepage Journal
    Yes, the technology is important, but it's the human performances within them that people really connect to, and I hope actors will get more respect for the work they do within those technologies.'

    I respect the work that these people do, but come on. I think this guy might be stretching it a bit. People don't buy video games for an actor in the same way they go see a movie for an actor in it. It is a completely different medium. Besides, voice actors in video games right now are pioneers. They will have to fight for a while before they get the recognition and money that they expect. Just like Hollywood actors did.
    • by DrLang21 ( 900992 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:39AM (#23503564)
      What about all of the creative programmers that create the interaction that drives the sales of these video games? What about their millions of dollars?
      • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <hansamurai@gmail.com> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:45AM (#23503622) Homepage Journal
        Exactly, I bet per hour this guy made a ton more than any of the programmers on the team. If this game took three years to make they each could have pulled in 200k I'm sure but how many hours is that? 40 a week? 60 a week? 80 a week at crunch time?
        • by Cowardly Anonymity ( 1104529 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:55AM (#23503764)
          Agreed. While in some sense video game voice acting is similar to animated films (especially with all the "ordinary" talk that is on GTA4), it's not exactly the centerpiece of the game. It's the animators, the game designers, and the programmers that create the bulk of the rest of the game, since games are interactive, rather than the almost half-half split that you see in movies: half acting, half animating. So for the amount of work he does and for the part that he plays in the creation of the game, Hollick gets paid pretty well compared to the other people working on it. Maybe actors and programmers could broker a deal that if a game breaks a certain threshold of sales, they would start getting small percentages of the profits above threshold?
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            Hmm...in retrospect my statement about '"ordinary" talk' is confusing. By that I mean the everyday chatter you hear on the streets, the lines Niko yells out when he hits a pedestrian, etc.
          • by ichigo 2.0 ( 900288 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:53PM (#23508406)
            Interestingly enough, a big part of the animations in GTA4 are procedurally generated [wikipedia.org]. If game "actors" start demanding more money then voices will start to be procedurally generated sooner rather than later.
        • by rickkas7 ( 983760 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:13AM (#23503996)
          The guy made $ 1,050 per day for about 95 days over 15 months to make about $ 100,000. Software developers probably made more than that in 15 months, but they had to work about 325 days. I'm feeling no sympathy.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tRANIS ( 195360 )
            100k for some voice work is pretty damn good.
            If hes whining because he didn't do his contract right, so what.

            And from the developers view, I would only pay the voice actors like this, makes sense. Your the one taking the financial risk of 100s of millions downs the tube so its your reward. Now if you wanted to give bonuses based on sales thats your own egg, but it would keep things like this from happening.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moankey ( 142715 )
          Well there are a few issues regarding this. Do actors and people in Hollywood get paid too much for what they do? Sure! But its what they were able to negotiate and what the business side agreed to, sometimes bitching and moaning but both sides are making big bucks.
          Do the production crew, programmers, and creative team deserve this too? Absolutely! Do they get it? No, because they were not able to negotiate this and accepted what was given to them.

          Its no wonder that thousands flock to Hollywood each year,
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          Yeah, and what about us players who actually install and load the software and then provide the input required to allow the game characters to do the things needed to showcase the work of the animators, programmers, voice actors etc. When do we gat paid?

        • by Cathoderoytube ( 1088737 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @02:06PM (#23508606)
          You have no idea.
          I'm a professional animator, and I have to say voice actors can be an extreme pain in the ass. They do about an hours worth of work but make more money than everybody else in the production. The last show I worked on the lead voice actor put well over 300 people out of work for 2 months while he re-negotiated his contract. They're so self absorbed and disconnected from the reality that they think they're the only important aspect of the production. On top of all that when the bleeder finally did agree to come back to work, they had to fire several people just to make up for the extra money they were giving this guy.

          So really, I have zero sympathy for voice actors.
      • by Dan667 ( 564390 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:46AM (#23503640)
        Completely agree. Voice actors are a dime a dozen, but I am surprised there are not more rock star Programmers gaining fame like Carmack. The Programmers are the ones that make the entertainment in this medium and they should get their due and accolades.
        • by b96miata ( 620163 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:07AM (#23503908)
          The game industry learned from the past mistakes of film and never let them reach that level.
          Also, all due respect to your angry unappreciated programmer 'tude, but frankly they're not.

          They're just one piece of a big puzzle. This isn't the 80s when squeezing a few extra polygons on the screen meant the difference between 12 and 40. Most of the type of work that the "rock star" people did back in the day is now handled by Engineers at ATI and NVIDIA, with some finishing touches by the DX team. Lately, with shaders to be written and what not, it's coming back a bit, but on the big console games more times than not they're using an engine that has most of that done already. (if you want to laud someone for the looks of GTA, check the credits for rockstar's ping pong game)

          I'd argue modellers/graphic artists are just as important, and on a game like GTAIV, story writers are a big piece of the picture.

          They could have had anyone with a decent eastern-european sounding accent and good delivery voice Niko. It's the situations he was in that made the game interesting.

          *note: this is coming from someone who makes a living writing software, so I'm not just tearing down people's contributions out of spite for the profession or anything.
          • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:16AM (#23504034) Homepage
            Back when John Carmack gained his fame, entire video games were produced by 3-4 people. It was entirely possible for the bulk of the work to be done by a single person. That is how they gained their fame. They did it all themselves. Now, with the complexity of games, it's impossible to do it all on your own. Therefore, it's impossible for somebody to claim all the credit, and impossible for anybody to become a superstar, just because they worked on a bunch of games. Also, there are no new video game guys, because the old guys are still going strong. Miyamoto, Carmack, Sid Meier, are all still producing games. GTA IV may sell a lot of copies, but it's still not a great game. I'm not sure if anybody will still be playing it 10-20 years from now. It will probably be forgotten about a week after GTA V comes out.
            • by merreborn ( 853723 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:37PM (#23507092) Journal

              Back when John Carmack gained his fame, entire video games were produced by 3-4 people.
              I know a guy who worked at Lucasfilm Games (now LucasArts) in the 80's. He recently went back for their 25th anniversary party, and talked about his experiences there at the time. He worked on some Commodore 64 games at the time, usually with maybe one other engineer. He was responsible for pretty much everything -- writing the memory manager, networking code, graphics, etc. etc.

              At lunch, the kid he sat next to was responsible for wood and ice simulation in the new star wars game -- and nothing else. They said rendering a single pixel in that game required about as much memory as a whole commodore 64 had -- 32k.

              So yeah, game development has changed dramatically.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Reverend528 ( 585549 ) *

          Voice actors are a dime a dozen
          Believe it or not, there actually are talented voice actors in the world. People like Billy West and Hank Azaria who can do a variety of different voices. Hell, there are scenes of futurama that consist solely of Billy West talking in different voices.

          Disclaimer: I'm not saying that this GTA guy is a talented voice actor, just that they do exist.

      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:48AM (#23503676)
        What about all of the creative programmers that create the interaction that drives the sales of these video games? What about their millions of dollars?

        Yeah, everybody is entitled to life + 100 years of profit from every piece of work that they do. Thats what I get, don't you?

        The thing is that the guy can't say this after the fact. If he wants a cut, then that needs to be in writing before he accepts the job. I mean, $100k is not bad for what I would imagine is a part time job for a while. I don't know the game, so I don't know the scale of his dialog skills in it, but I doubt it was 2,000 hours of work over a year of time (1 FTE in manager speak).

        • by raddan ( 519638 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:16AM (#23504032)
          Not to mention-- even if he gets royalties, it's probably not going to be the same kind of sweet deal that actors get. Video games are different than movies in one important respect: a good movie will continue to sell indefinitely, and this is where royalties really pay off. This is rare for a video game. Even if you want to keep playing the game, you have to deal with obsolescence of the hardware and software. MicroProse's F-19 Stealth Fighter was one of my favorite all-time games. Assuming if I can get it to run correctly in an emulator, forget about hooking up my old Gravis Analog joystick-- I don't even have a port for it on my computer anymore!
          • by tmalone ( 534172 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:40AM (#23504334)
            Video games are starting to sell like movies. Just look at Final Fantasy. How many times is Square going to trot out the old games? Now, there weren't voice actors in those games, but it does show that older titles do have value. Lunar, originally for the SegaCD was later re-released on the Saturn, and later still on the PS1. That game had lots of voice acting. I wonder who got the money for those releases?

            If the video game industry wants to be taken more seriously, they should start taking their product more seriously. That means respecting the talent that actually creates the games. Programmers shoulld get paid like writers. They need to have a guild. The head of the team should probably be considered the director or producer. As actors become more and more integral to the success of a game,they should be paid like any other actor. Games will never be "art" until the people who make them start considering them to be art.
      • by tero ( 39203 )
        If I could I'd mod you up. Instead I'm going to post a "meetoo"

        That "creative artist" is way of line, sure they probably make great things happen with their voices and the game is probably much better product because of that.. but in the end the voice actors are just such a small piece of the cake, so many others deserve to get their millions first.
    • by Fumus ( 1258966 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:41AM (#23503584)
      Maybe more gamers are like me. I buy games for their content. Why the hell would I bother to even look up who did some character's voice?
      It's the same with films. I don't give a rat's ass about who plays which role. I just watch the damn film and enjoy it or not. I don't even know more than ten actor names. I just don't care enough.
    • What does that have to do with keeping a small percentage?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jaysyn ( 203771 )
      Exactly, you're a (non-singing) voice, get over yourself.

      He's bitching about getting paid 100k for speaking lines that he didn't write to begin with into a mike. What a fucking tool.
    • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:55AM (#23503766)
      If there was a percentage option, most people would look at video games and say "I'll take my money up front, thanks" and be bitter about their poor choice after the project hits paydirt.
      • by Critical Facilities ( 850111 ) * on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:26AM (#23504170)
        That's it exactly!

        This guy has the nerve to complain that he was ONLY paid $100k to essentially do voice over work. Apparently, he has absolutely no frame of reference for the entertainment industry (or at least, no frame of reference that's grounded in reality). Furthermore, the comparison in the article which says:

        Had this been a television program, a film, an album, a radio show or virtually any other sort of traditional recorded performance, Mr. Hollick and the other actors in the game would have made millions by now.

        That is such crap. By that rationale, eveyone who had ever done voice-over work for documentaries, or was a guest on a radio show would be a millionaire. The problem here is that this person a) maybe didn't negotiate well at the onset of the project and b) is confusing the success of the game with his success. These games didn't succeed and become wildly popular BECAUSE of this person's voice (or simulated gait for crying out loud). Rather, this person gained popularity due to the game's success (due to the design, art work, marketing, R&D, etc etc). This just sounds like a whiney guy who can't find other work....maybe because he isn't that great as a "voice actor".

        By the way, before you flame me or mod me troll, I am a composer for TV and movies, and am fully aware of each deal I enter into. If I make a choice to negotiate a set price for a project, and that project subsequently takes off and becomes wildly successful, I have no one by myself to blame for not negotiaitng a piece of the back end and making sure I get residuals/royalties. This guy need to learm the business if he's going to progress any further.
    • by wireloose ( 759042 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:09AM (#23503938)
      That first Tauren actor that Blizzard hired only received 3 coppers and a stack of Peacebloom for a snack.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:15AM (#23504012)
      He had better be careful. Rockstar might just decide to kill him and get their money back.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:35AM (#23504276) Homepage
      Exactly, I say to these actors.... A GREAT BIG WAHHHH.

      read your fricking contract before you sign it.
    • by lorenzo.boccaccia ( 1263310 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:57AM (#23504556)
      uhm.. why they all praise the free market, only when they gain from it? He had is bargain chance. He signed for 100K. If he wanted double than that, I think Rockstar could have found a lot of fitting voices for the same role and a quarter of the price. No point in whining after.
      It's not a recognized face, either, nor Hollywood actors starts multimillionaire on their first appearance. Why he should differ? Even Harrison Ford worked his career trough a lot of minor TV productions and secondary roles.
  • 100k... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 16384 ( 21672 )
    Why should voice actors get a percentage for a few days of work? What about all the programmers, artists and the like that spent 50 or 60 hours per week working on the game? 100k doesn't seem like a meager pay.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by maxume ( 22995 )
      I wonder if the voice actor thinks that Rockstar wouldn't be able to find someone to do basically the same quality of voice acting for $99,000, or $98,000. Somehow, I think they could.

      Of course, it probably wouldn't hurt Rockstar much to take 3 or 4 percent of the profit and split it up among the whole project team. Assume that they have made ~$100 million on those sales and that there are 10,000 people involved (that's probably high) and each person gets a few hundred dollars, which is better than a few hu
    • Re:100k... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Squapper ( 787068 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:43AM (#23503600)
      Indeed. I am a senior 3d-artist working in the game industry, and my salary for a game is nowhere near 100k
    • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:11AM (#23503972) Homepage Journal
      of the credits DON'T COUNT.

      Amazed people haven't figured it out. These "actors" are the center of the universe, the rarely having completed high school know it alls", the ones who will solve all the worlds problems by jetting there and handing out candy bars"

      The people with the grunt work, the programmers, cameramen, gaffers, q&A, and such, well they are just doing a job any chimp could do.

      Honestly why should we expect any less of a comment from the likes of this guy? It is quite possible he is good person and generally fun to be around, but the number of these dicksperts that get on the tube and tell us how wonderful they are and how special they are and such and such is beyond number. Hell I take many of their recommendations in the completely opposite fashion...
  • by moz13 ( 673277 )
    Did he not agree to the (generous) salary? His union doesn't have the royalty deals Hollywood has had in place for ages, but look how those have turned out: voodoo bookkeeping to try to work around those royalties. And do the game's programmers and artists not deserve a percent of the sales as well? Bleh... I can see a decent argument to be made for profit sharing of a game's sales with the team that made it, but this guy just comes off like an ass.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    you provide time and a service in return for a pre-negotiated payment.

    if he feels he didn't get paid enough, he shouldn't have taken the job. he can't blame the union now. obviously he's so famous he could have gotten work somewhere else and earned more, right?

    if he think he wouldn't have gotten the job if he held out for more money, well, that's how it works. if you provide a service that anybody else can provide (reading from a script), then your pay will not approach 7 digits. i can't go to my boss n
  • by YojimboJango ( 978350 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:40AM (#23503578)
    You were hired to do a job and you got 100k for it. Shut up and be glad you have a job in this economy. It always pissed me off how actors say that they 'deserve' millions on millions of dollars for their 4 hours of work a day. I'd be happy to see this trend not extend into the video game industry.
  • Sorry but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus ( 757119 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:41AM (#23503586)
    ... voice actors don't add that much to a game, the fact that he got 100,000 (more then most people make in a year) for the teeniest amount of work compared to the average worker, is just fucking appalling.

    I'd rather give those bonus's to the dev's that actually deserve it who spend 60-70 hours a week, then to some greedy VA, who does jack shit, when compared to the massive engineering that coders and artists and others on the team have to do.

    VA's do not add anywhere near the value that the actual team does, they're spoilt and the game industry should not cater to these fucks. I'd rather hire amateur VA's off the street then some hollywood fucktard.
  • by amazeofdeath ( 1102843 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:42AM (#23503590)
    $100k? How can you expect anyone to live on that? Where's the union when you need it the most?
  • I would make a bet that he got paid more than the creative developers working 16 hours a day on the game implementation, and developers don't even have a union either.
  • covetousness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Arthur B. ( 806360 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:45AM (#23503626)
    Look no further. Hey, a pile o'money, how come it's not mine.
  • by phorm ( 591458 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:45AM (#23503628) Journal
    How long does it take to do the work? 6 months? A Year? Two to three years?

    I'd say that for a year or less of work, 100-grand is good money. If it's more than a year, then depending on the actual work/hours involved, perhaps he should be getting more. However, a million bucks? Maybe big-name actors make this much, but that doesn't automatically entitle video-game actors to the same. Moreover, I'm not really sure how much movie voice-actors make, but that would be a closer comparison.

    Sorry bud, but that's the way the industry works. If I write a piece of software for my company which they resell to clients, all I get is my original paycheque (perhaps a bonus if they're feeling generous). Just because some other overpaid smoe is making a million buckazoids or more doesn't automatically entitle you to that type of cash any more than it does me or the various others that work their butts off for a living.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:47AM (#23503648)
    Fat short italian plumber dresses in red and stages protest in front of Nintendo office in Rome to claim unpaid billions.
  • If he wanted more, he should have written it into his contract to get a percentage of the gross/net.

    Maybe he can use his leverage to get other voice acting jobs?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is this guy for real? He wants royalties on a video game that he voice acted for?

    Let me get this straight...this no-name actor comes in about halfway into the development of the game, gets a script, gets into a recording studio and records some voice for a period of a few weeks, two months tops, and gets paid $100,000 for it, and now he's complaining that he's not getting royalties for the game?

    What about the programmers, artists, and designers who worked at the company for years from beginning to end of th
  • by Hangtime ( 19526 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:50AM (#23503698) Homepage
    bring in hundred of thousands in unit game sales with your name then you can whine. Right now, you could sub that voice out with any other and it would not make one difference in sales. For the closest approximation think Mark Hamill who did video cut scenes for the Wing Commander games back in the mid-90s. People bought that game because he was a part of it, he can ask for royalties. If they made another GTA IV with the same Niko character but with a different voice actor would it matter? Heck no because I don't play the game for the voices, I play for the gameplay.
  • risk vs. reward (Score:3, Insightful)

    by G4from128k ( 686170 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:50AM (#23503700)
    Would this actor have been willing to return the $100K (or more) if the game had lost money?

    If someone wants to share in the rewards of a blockbuster products, they need to be willing to share in the losses from flops.

  • I have to agree. Sports stars do what.. play with their balls for a few hours and then treat their public like crap? Movie stars do cocaine. Musicians drive around in gold plated limos. The only real branch of entertainment that doesn't get its due is video games. Seriously though, why should a voice actor for an animated movie get royalties, and then a voice actor for a video game not get anything? They both deserve their due. However, I also think the programmers and everyone else involved deserves some k
  • If this was television, film, or radio, Hollick and the other GTA actors could have made millions by now.
    Simple, this is not television, film, or radio. You, as actors, are not what is driving this vehicle. People play these games because they want to play GTA4. If the character was mute and you had to read text (as is the case with a number of other games) the game would feel different but I think it would have sold just as well.

    Contrast that to movies or television where people go to see movies and watch television shows because of the actors and actresses involved. People will go to see a movie with Angelina Jolie in it because she's so damn hot and the studios know this so they hire her, and she knows this so she charges $20M.

    Now to this guy's credit as near as I can tell he's not saying "I was robbed and deceived", he's just saying "gee, I was the main actor in a game which has made $500M, it would be nice if I had been paid more." With all due respect, you didn't get paid more because you're a nobody. I'm not trying to be mean - but you're not George Clooney, you're someone who did soap operas to this point. You did an excellent job, and you were helped by the "Pixar Effect" of using a high quality but unknown actor to avoid distractions. But you were paid the amount you were because you're an unknown. Heck, you got paid a lot more than the average person does in a year, and I doubt this was the only gig you had. If they ever make a sequel to this game and reuse your character (unlikely, since like the Final Fantasy franchise they change characters and settings entirely from game to game) then renegotiate for more money. But in the meantime, just enjoy the fame and likelihood of getting future work.
  • What bullshit (Score:5, Insightful)

    by el_munkie ( 145510 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @08:52AM (#23503734)
    He signed the contract. He knew the terms going into it. He is actually very lucky since voice actors are pretty easy to find and have low standards for compensation. His role in this game will get him all kinds of work he would not have gotten otherwise.

    And his voice is not an integral part of the game. Any halfway competent voice actor would have sufficed. The real stars are the programmers and designers.
    • Thank you for that (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JonTurner ( 178845 )

      He signed the contract. He knew the terms going into it.

      Exactly. And if the company demands more, he would point back to his contract and say "nope. that's not what I agreed to" and the Actor's Union would back him up. But now that there's money on the table, he wants a reneg.

      It doesn't work that way for programmers, Q/A, artists, etc. FAR too many projects start off with modest goals and reasonable timelines, only to hit "crunch time" a couple months into the 18-month schedule when the real scope becomes clear.

      I've seen people in the game industry work themsel

    • Re:What bullshit (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:33AM (#23504254)

      He signed the contract. He knew the terms going into it.

      Exactly. Which makes things like this laughable:

      I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union

      How about blaming yourself for agreeing to terms you apparently find unconscionable? Oh but wait, once you've got the gig it's easy to bitch about how you deserve more, but I bet if you had said to them up front that 100K wasn't enough, they'd have laughed in your face and hired somebody else for 100K. Because let's face it, no matter how much money they made, you aren't worth more than 100K to them. And if that's not acceptable to you, you shouldn't have accepted the job.

  • But if I remember correctly this guy got paid something like $1000 for a single day of recording.

    Yes, good voice acting does help make a character better, yes it can be a hard job depending on what they need you to do, and yes I'm pretty sure there was a ton of dialog to record for the game.

    But he makes just as much money as some folks for 1/3 or even 1/4 of the amount of time actually spent in the "office". He can probably do work on multiple projects too.
  • Hollywood, unable to come up with original stories, will make a movie version of GTA. You look like the type of guy who'd play the character (I know what you look like thanks to the publicity from this story) and since you're the voice of the character in the game, I think you'd be a shoe in for the lead - for an incredibly high (possibly record breaking) starting pay for a newcomer in films.

    I'm posting this assuming you or your agent hasn't thought of all this and your recent media comments aren't just a p

  • You I wrote the module that is critical to out company's product. Total sales of the product over the last 14 years is over 500 million dollars. Apart from the measly 1.4 mill they gave as salary over the 14 yeas for being a software engineer, I didn't get anything else. I want to blame the Software Engineers union for not negotiating better compensation for me.

    Wait, whatever trade group I could join as a software engineer does not have the same clout as UAW or USW. And if it did it would have run to gro

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:00AM (#23503824)
    ... then why did he sign the contract? Had he not heard of all the previous GTAs enough to know that GTA IV would be a huge success?
  • That an actor gets $100,000 for voicing a single production, in itself, is silly. That he complains for not getting a LOT MORE for it, is just a pathetic statement on the industry as a whole.

    People should be getting paid based on the value of their work. I realize it's a free market and supply and demand and all, and ultimately it's the consumers that are causing this to happen, but I still think it's just lacking in all common sense,.

    If the public was not gullible enough to pay so much for something that
  • This guy was making a sequel to one of the best selling franchises of all time, and he's SHOCKED that's it's made millions and he didn't get a cut of it? If he was so sure about the value of his work, why didn't he demand a percentage up front? I'll tell you why, because he's JUST ANOTHER ACTOR, one of thousands who would have been happy to come in and replace him and do just as good a job as he did.

    Take your hundred grand and be happy that you're still not tending bar, buddy.

  • Sour grapes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bconway ( 63464 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:05AM (#23503884) Homepage
    I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games.

    Have you considered negotiating for yourself? That's what I do when I get a job.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:11AM (#23503964) Journal
    Although the game has made more than $600 million in sales for Rockstar Games, Hollick earns nothing beyond the original $100K he was paid.

    A hundred thousand fucking dollars for reading out loud? How long did he have to read to earn that hundred thousand dollars? Poor little baby. I work all goddamned year long for half that much. That's twice what my house is worth!

    I've never seen a hundred thousand dollars!

    How much did the programmers get? I'll bet they didn't get a hundred grand each!

    The asshole signed a contract and he was paid what he was offered. If he thinks a hundred grand isn't enough, then he shouldn't do any more video games.

    I'm sick of the God damned money worshiping greed today. Hollick can kiss my ass.
  • by Steauengeglase ( 512315 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @09:20AM (#23504102)
    I see one big problem here. Games, unlike say, Victrola music, are more difficult and time consuming to "transfer" to newer technologies. For every Tomb Raider on GameTap there is a System Shock and System Shock 2 (bad examples I know). With so little "roll-over content" what is the purpose of the sending out residual checks on something that probably won't be selling 20 years from now.

    I guess my point is that the game business isn't built like the movie or music business and it should be very wary of going the way of the beloved MPAA or RIAA.

  • by Starky ( 236203 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:00AM (#23504592)
    To those who suggest the actor is a whiner, reread the post. He appropriately blames the union for not including these kinds of positions appropriately in their collective bargaining efforts.

    Basically, many companies in the video game industry, a young(ish) business currently more or less an oligopoly, are making well above what would be considered normal profits. Barriers to entry are high, so I would anticipate they will continue to make above-normal profits for some time.

    The music industry, movie industry, and sports industry, among others, have gone through the same dynamic and the video game industry will doubtless see many of the same growing pains they have and be subject to the same kinds of bargaining dynamics. And in situations like this, with well-above-normal profits being generated, those who add significant economic value and don't use collective bargaining to claim a share of the pie are simply giving money away.

    Sure, with the exception of some rock stars, the coders in the trenches aren't being paid millions, but that's not a reason the actors shouldn't be paid more. If anything, it simply indicates the coders in such industries should strive to self-organize as well as actors and athletes.

  • by Aquitaine ( 102097 ) <samNO@SPAMiamsam.org> on Thursday May 22, 2008 @10:03AM (#23504646) Homepage
    Disclaimer: I am a member of one of the acting unions (a sister union to SAG, which is who this guy is blaming).

    Before all of you hate this guy for wanting more than $100k, consider one very important aspect of actors' salaries that is usually why they get both a high daily rate and a percentage on a big project:

    They don't get a salary. Once the project is over, so is their income. Their health insurance and retirement only gets contributions while they're working, and in the case of health insurance, if you don't work enough weeks out of the year (and it's a lot right now, since the health insurance funds are all in the toilet) then your boss is still paying for your heath insurance (money he could be paying you with) but you aren't getting it.

    The saying goes that Actors work about 1/4 as much as regular people, but in that 1/4 of the time, they work 8 times harder. There is absolutely zero 'veg out at your desk' as an actor. You probably think it'd be a blast to have a job like voicing Nico Bellic, and in a lot of ways, it probably was - but you will tear up your voice doing the same dialog over and over again, particularly the pages and pages of 'you are caught on fire' and 'you fall off a building.'

    This guy earned $100k for 16 months of work. That's pretty good, but not great. This isn't a young noob, either. He's mid-career. $75k a year for Nico Bellic?

    Several people have rightly pointed out that people don't buy video games 'because of an actor' like they go see movies because of an actor. This is partially true. You don't buy a video game because a particular actor is involved (usually, though I expect Splinter Cell would be wildly unpopular if they axed the gravelly voice dude, Ironsides?). You do buy a video game because the acting & storytelling is extraordinary. Most games suffer from bad writing AND bad acting; a game that has both will review & sell well.

    Obviously it's not such a large factor that these guys should get the same slice a movie star is going to get, and I'm not even sure if residuals is the way to go for video games - there's a very good case to be made that the 3d artist/lead programmer or whatever is just as important or more important. In some studios, I imagine the lead guys have shares of stock in the company and so do get residuals in their way - but even if they don't, they get a salary. They get to work on every game. The actor doesn't.

    Having said all this, the unions will probably ask for too much. The actor who did Nico sounds like he's got his head on straight - he doesn't want to piss off Rockstar and he's not personally whining about it; he's allowing his case to be used to bring attention to the subject, which is pretty harmless. The question of 'when GTAIV makes a bazillion dollars, who should get what?' is a tough one and it -should- take a lot of haggling to figure that out. Even if you give Nico residuals, what about Roman? McLeary? Where do you stop?

    However you solve it, keep in mind that actors typically make a crapload of money on a daily basis because they work so little of time. Last I checked, at any given time, under 5% of my union is employed.
  • by jollyreaper ( 513215 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @12:31PM (#23506996)
    I can understand actors wanting residuals when considering how much the company owners are raking in. $600 million in profits, I'm the voice of the character and I only get $100k? What the hell? Yet at the same time, why shouldn't the secretary get a cut of the overall profits? That coffee doesn't make itself! And then we get into lunacy land.

    Overall, I think long-term royalties are a bad idea, especially because of the corporate greedheads. I think a limited copyright should exist for 15 to 20 years, then it should be dropped. That's enough time for an inventor to make money off his invention, a writer to rake it in off of his book, and then it's done. Why the hell is Jimi Hendrix making executives millions of dollars decades after he kissed the sky? Why in the fucking hell does MLK's family have rights over his name and likeness, up to and including selling it to marketing companies so they can use civil rights to turn a fucking buck selling crap?

    It's the inequitable distribution of income that really rankles me. I do believe that there's a measure of reward that should be had commensurate with risk. However, when the money men are well-secured in their positions of power and are taking very little risk to finance a project, why should they earn a higher return than the people pouring their blood, sweat, and tears into the effort?
  • by 7Prime ( 871679 ) on Thursday May 22, 2008 @01:39PM (#23508180) Homepage Journal
    Well, there's two sides to the arguement. One is that the voice actors in video games are doing just as much work as voice actors in other mediums: Film, TV, Radio. But the reality is, they're really not as important in video games as those mediums. There was little to no voice acting in games until around 2000, and still, a great number of games (probably still the majority) contains either no voice acting or only partial voice acting. Even most games that have voice acting (GTAIV included) have subtitles at the bottom of the screen, so TECHNICALLY voiceacting isn't neccessary.

    I flat-out disagree with his claim that it's the actors who bring the characters to life. Many games have been made that have wonderful character portrayal with no voiceacting. Many Japanese RPGs, for instance, relly on various methods of getting across character emotion that build up incredibly subtle character personality over time. I first played FF6 back in 2002, and found it to be one of the most moving games I'd played to date, for instance... mostly due to the writing, but also due to the timing and character plot arcs. Sure, it was simplistic, but I really felt for those people. Sometimes, voice-acting brings the characters a bit too close to reality, and all the nuances get sort of lost within the jumble between voice and body language.

    The single most important thing for the portrayal of humanality in video games is character animation/body language, and facial expression. The PS1 was almost completely dead in that department (even more so than the 16-bit era), the PS2 tried, but often came across either over-the-top or not quite correct. I'm starting to see quite a few titles that are able to portray character personality and emotion with the 360, Wii, PS3, and late PS2 titles... but I think this has to do less with hardware advancement than it does a realization that those things are incredibly important. That will probably be this generation's biggist legacy. GTAIV isn't perfect in this department, but it's getting better.

    So in closing, it's a tough decision. It's like any other market, you have to balance the amount of work one has done with the neccessity and effect of their having done it. Some games couldn't possibly work without voice acting... you can't have an MGS without David Hayter, for instance, and in that case, he's probably almost as much a neccessity as a TV voice/film actor. But for GTA, of which voice acting is not as much a neccessity, and characters change from game to game, it's understandable that they make less.

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