How much video game voice actors get paid, explained amid Hellena Taylor’s Bayonetta revelations

Hellena Taylor, the original voice actress for Bayonetta, has revealed she was offered only $4,000 for her entire performance. She called for a boycott of the new game, drawing the attention of fans and developers. So let’s take a look at how much video game voice actors actually get paid.

Bayonetta voice actress Hellena Taylor was offered only $4,000 for her work

Important updates

  • PlatinumGames issued an official statement, saying the studio fully supports Jennifer Hale as the new Bayonetta: “We at PlatinumGames offer our sincerest appreciation to everyone who has contributed to creating the Bayonetta series over the years, as well as the community that has served as its foundation.”
  • On October 24, Hellena Taylor admitted that she was initially offered $10,000 (not $4,000 as she previously stated) for her role in Bayonetta 3. After she declined, PlatinumGames offered her an extra $5,000.
  • The actress refused to voice Bayonetta for $15,000. The studio contacted Taylor 11 months later, offering her $4,000 for a small appearance.
  • What it means is that Hellena Taylor’s initial claims were incorrect. That $4,000 was offered for a cameo, not for the whole role, as she claimed in the first series of videos that went viral.
  • Taylor, in fact, confirmed the reports of the $15,000 offer despite previously saying they were untrue.
  • The actress also once again called Bayonetta the $450 million franchise, which is also far from true (at least based on sales figures of the first two games).

The original story can be read below.

What happened?

  • Over the weekend, Taylor posted a series of videos on Twitter, saying that PlatinumGames’ final offer for voicing Bayonetta 3 was $4,000. “This is an insult to me,” she noted, given that she has spent years studying her craft.

Update (October 19): According to a Bloomberg Report, Helena Taylor was offered $15k, not $4k. She denined this information, but a few sources say she asked for a six-figure sum to reprise her role in Bayonetta 3.

  • As a result, Taylor was replaced by Jennifer Hale, known for voicing Commander Shepard in Mass Effect. While the official statement cited “various overlapping circumstances” for Taylor’s departure, it is now clear that low pay was the main reason.

  • After breaking the NDA and revealing financial details, Taylor asked fans to boycott Bayonetta 3 and instead donate this money to charity. She noted that she decided to stand in solidarity with all people around the world who don’t get paid properly for their talents.
  • “Fat cats cream off the top and leave us with rotten crumbs,” she said, adding. “I’m not afraid of a non-disclosure agreement. I can’t even afford to run a car, what are they going to do, take my clothes? Good luck to them.”
  • PlatinumGames hasn’t commented on the situation yet, but Bayonetta director Hideki Kamiya wrote that he was “sad and deplorable about the attitude of untruth.”

How much do video game voice actors get paid?

Voice actors may work individually or be represented by the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) union. The organization helps set minimum wage guarantees and negotiates with the gaming industry.

Actors are usually paid for sessions rather than getting traditional salaries. As of 2020, the standard minimum rates for video game voice actors were $902 (4-hour session, up to three voices) and $451 (one hour, one voice), according to a SAG-AFTRA rate sheet.

As Taylor told Nintendo Players UK in 2018, it took her four four-hour sessions to record all the lines for the first Bayonetta. However, the rates were lower back then, so it is unclear how much money she got for her work.

Michael Hollick, best known for voicing GTA IV’s protagonist Niko Bellic, received $100k from Rockstar over the course of about 15 months. This sum included both voice acting and motion-capture work.

It is worth noting that Hollick was paid around $1,050 for each session, 50% more than the standard guild-negotiated rate during his GTA IV voiceover. However, he didn’t see any royalties or residuals from Rockstar, even despite the game’s huge commercial success.

Sean Chiplock, who voiced three characters in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, was paid $2-3k by Nintendo. He noted that he made more from his work on Freedom Planet 1 due to sales royalties.

Celebrities and famous actors can get much more. According to Reuters, one star was offered over $500k for a single recording session. However, most actors earn much less money. They also don’t get any royalties or residuals from voicing games.

The problem with low rates even led to a 2016 video game voice actor strike against nine publishers, including EA, Activision, and Take-Two. It lasted 340 days and was the longest in the history of the Screen Actors Guild.

As a result, SAG-AFTRA and game companies signed an agreement to raise pay and introduce a new bonus system. Voice actors can now get additional money for each recording session they participate in, starting at $75 for the first session and up to $2,100 for ten sessions.

The agreement was extended until November 2022. However, actors are still not guaranteed any royalties based on the game’s commercial performance.

Write a comment...
Related news