SAG-AFTRA expands its indie game performer contract

Smaller video game studios will now have better access to unionised acting talent.
Image: SAG-AFTRA video games logo

SAG-AFTRA has announced a new Tiered-Budget Independent Interactive Media Agreement (IMA) that allows smaller game development studios to cast unionised acting talent in their projects. Per the terms laid out, games with production budgets between USD $250,000 to USD $15 million will now be able to better engage with SAG-AFTRA performers, with custom rates set out for their contributions.

As detailed, there are now three tiers of customised session rates to ensure fair compensation based on budget and studio size, as well as firmer rules around the use of actors in recording sessions, and limitations for AI use.

While SAG-AFTRA had previously penned a contract to allow for acting work on indie game projects, the new IMA is “updated and expanded” with new terms, and a firmer structure to ensure greater protections for actors, and more opportunity for smaller studios.

The use of AI in the acting process has been a sticking point for SAG-AFTRA over the last year, with much of its recent strike action centred around the demand for greater protections. In the new IMA for video games, SAG-AFTRA has specifically required “informed consent and compensation for the use of digital replicas of a performer” with studios unable to replicate voices without this permission.

Read: SAG-AFTRA pens deal with AI voiceover studio for video game work

In addition to these terms, the new agreement also provides for SAG-AFTRA members to receive secondary payments in the event of “runaway project success.”

Per Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director, the newly-penned IMA will allow for smaller studios to drive innovation with new access to top-tier, unionised voice acting talent.

“Independent studios and small-to-mid-sized projects are a driving force propelling innovation and creativity in the video game industry,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “This new contract provides them an opportunity to work with some of the world’s top performers. Many SAG-AFTRA members also have a built-in fan base that passionately follows their work and expands a game’s potential audience.”

You can read more about the new Tiered-Budget Independent Interactive Media Agreement on the SAG-AFTRA website.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.