New voice actors agreement opens doors to indie games

SAG-AFTRA will allow for more flexible rates and low session minimums for low-budget projects.


Indie studios will have a better chance at hiring renowned voice and motion capture actors from now on. This comes from a new agreement signed by SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) oriented towards low-budget projects in the indie gaming industry.

As reported today by Gamasutra, this new agreement touches many important points it workers rights, including healthcare and pension contributions, as well as working conditions like mandatory breaks between sessions. But what’s of interest to the indie game development industry regards a good amount of flexible standards for hiring big-time SAG-AFTRA associated actors.

Through this new agreement, indie studios with low budgets will be able to hire voice and motion capture actors at more affordable rates and for shorter periods of time, whereas previously minimum sessions would start at 4 or 8 hours, now indie studios will be able to hire them for short-term 2 hour sessions.

The new rates specified by this new agreement are of USD $825.50 for a 4 hour voice acting session or 8 hour motion capture session, while the more flexible and short ones will mean 2 hour sessions USD $412.75. Indie studios reached by these new conditions must generally be projects below USD $1.5 million.

“The only apprehension I had in joining the union was missing out on this whole burgeoning space of ambitious artistic expression. Coming out of indies and loving them, and not wanting to lose them as I scale up.”, told voice actor Sarah Elmaleh (Pyre, Gone Home) to Gamasutra. “[Indies] would have had to use the standard agreement with the higher rate tied to a session minimum/window that is less flexible and less frequently necessary, in my experience.”, she added.

This new document is directly relatable to recent protests and strikes from the voice actors guild against AAA studios, complaining about work conditions and rates for particularly straining jobs like producing sounds of beasts, aliens, monsters and more fictional characters.

This new agreement has apparently been used for the production of Dim Bulb Games’ Where The Water Tastes Like Wine and Zachtronics’ Exapunks. “Working with SAG-AFTRA on Where the Water Tastes Like Wine was a wonderful experience,”, Gamasutra reported lead developer Johnnemann Nordhagen said.

All in all, this new SAG-AFTRA agreement seems like great news for low-budget indie studios looking to add great value to their games with renowned actors, allowing for heavy hitting credits and PR potential.