Bayonetta 3 developer disputes voice actor's claim that she was offered $4,000 to reprise...

midian182

Posts: 8,481   +104
Staff member
A hot potato: Bayonetta has been a favorite series among fans of action games featuring jumpsuit-wearing female protagonists for over a decade—despite becoming a Nintendo-exclusive following the first game. The third entry lands on the Switch next week, but its launch is being overshadowed by a pay controversy involving the actor who provides the main character's voice.

Over the weekend, Hellena Taylor, the star of Bayonetta and Bayonetta II, said she would not be appearing in the third game when it arrives on October 28. She claimed the reason was that Nintendo and developer Platinum Games had offered her a total of $4,000 to reprise the role. Taylor rejected the lowball offer and has called for people to boycott the game in a video that has gained more than 9.5 million views on Twitter.

Bloomberg reports that there may be more to the story. It writes that according to two people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by the publication, Platinum Games wanted to hire Taylor for at least five recording sessions, paying $3,000 to $4,000 for each four-hour session in the studio, making a total of at least $15,000.

The sources claim that Taylor rejected this offer because she wanted a six-figure sum and residuals. This led to Platinum Games replacing Taylor with Jennifer Hale, best known for providing the voice of female Commander Shepard in Mass Effect.

Taylor responded by calling the sources' claims "an absolute lie," adding that Platinum was "trying to save their ass and the game."

Hideki Kamiya, the executive director of Bayonetta 3, called Taylor's video "sad and deplorable" in a Twitter post before deactivating his account.

Regardless of what the truth might be, most people agree that this is shining a light on the comparatively low amount voice actors are paid for games that sometimes make millions. Bryan Dechart, who acted in Cyberpunk 2077 and Red Dead Redemption II, said he was also offered $4,000 to work on a big-budget game, while Sean Chiplock said he was paid around $3,000 for voicing three characters in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

"Some people might think that getting paid $4,000 to do a game sounds amazing," John Schwab, who plays Dandelion in the Witcher franchise, told The Guardian. "But the commitment that it takes to get a game done – we're talking dozens and dozens of hours of recording. And on top of that, the travel that nobody pays for, the agents' fees, the tax […] People think you show up, work for two hours and a game comes out. Absolutely not."

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m4a4

Posts: 3,178   +4,263
TechSpot Elite
Well, who's gonna leak the offer to back up their side of the story?

As someone who's not very familiar with VO work, I've got one problem with what I've been hearing so far: What about the other people working on the game?
Why would the voice actor get so much more per hour (and residuals) than, say, a senior programmer? An art lead? A project manager? I can understand more than $100/hr when you have to travel to a recording studio and whatnot. But six figures for a dozen or so hours of doing voice recordings? I'm not seeing where that make sense in the context of the rest of the team (most of whom would be putting in hundreds or thousands of hours each).

On the one hand, this isn't Hollywood (where the actors get paid obscene amounts compared to anyone around them).
On the other, you'd hope that a very successful game (franchise) would also reward all the people who worked on it with a bonus or something (even the people who put in relatively few hours but are noticeable)...
 

Dimitriid

Posts: 2,257   +4,397
I think that predictably, we will see far too many people trying to take sides on either side of the equation, weighting in on who should make how much, etc.

This can only be fair if say, the people who actually create the game be it programmers, visual artists, writers and voice actors (a.k.a. the workers) were able to democratically decide for themselves these matters and had access to the full profits of the game sales without having to deal with parasitic managers, publishers and middlemen (a.k.a. own the means of production)
 

DSirius

Posts: 380   +798
TechSpot Elite
I think that predictably, we will see far too many people trying to take sides on either side of the equation, weighting in on who should make how much, etc.

This can only be fair if say, the people who actually create the game be it programmers, visual artists, writers and voice actors (a.k.a. the workers) were able to democratically decide for themselves these matters and had access to the full profits of the game sales without having to deal with parasitic managers, publishers and middlemen (a.k.a. own the means of production)
But, but, but... despise of this being true, these will hurt the "fellings" of all those managers, investors and other parasitic exec, and they had to reward themselves with more money for emotional damage :joy:
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,363   +8,581
Maybe the creator could get their kids to do the voices, that way they can claim the kids allowance is enough money .... I mean really, when you have a series that is popular, prices & costs of tallent are going up so either live with it or kill off the character and start over. Considering what these games make in profits, a six fee is a drop in the bucket .....
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
Regardless of what the truth might be, most people agree that this is shining a light on the comparatively low amount voice actors are paid for games that sometimes make millions.

Low amount? If the story is true they were offering $4000 for 4 hours work. That's $1000/hr. I don't know too many people that make that kind of money and I would hardly call that a "low amount".
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 889   +1,418
This may be a controversial opinion, but there are billions of people with a voice and the more you pay voice actors, the more will flock to join. I'm pretty sure a company is allowed to pay whatever they want if the actor is easily replaceable and the difference of result is inconsequential enough.

I see there being two key parts of what makes a voice actor good. One is being able to use your voice effectively. This simply takes work (maybe a few years) in order to be efficient at your work (aka reduce mistakes) and be effective at portraying what you want to (especially emotion). The other aspect is what'll help advance voice actors without the work (aka with luck), which is having a more unique/recognizable voice.

Unlike acting, there is no visual aspect and so it evens the playing field dramatically. This is why any actor can become a voice actor easily (ie. Morgan Freeman, Tim Allen, Robin Williams), because voice is already one aspect of acting that most actors excel at. Looks of the person acting isn't relevant, nor their ability to portray emotion with their face. So voice actors are never going to be paid large sums (with few exceptions if you have "the voice").
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
I think that predictably, we will see far too many people trying to take sides on either side of the equation, weighting in on who should make how much, etc.

This can only be fair if say, the people who actually create the game be it programmers, visual artists, writers and voice actors (a.k.a. the workers) were able to democratically decide for themselves these matters and had access to the full profits of the game sales without having to deal with parasitic managers, publishers and middlemen (a.k.a. own the means of production)
Sorry, but you can keep your socialism. If game developers want this level of control over a game then they can start their own studio, and do the work and decide who gets paid and more. No one is preventing that from happening but the developers who want the security of a paycheck.

Do not expect to walk into a job, with no skin in the game except your time and think you're going to share equally in the benefits. And, by the way, if the developers did own the development company, they would still have managers, publishers and middle men and not everyone would get paid equally because everyone is not contributing equally to the output of the product. And, you wouldn't get paid a dime until such time as the product sold and you have enough money to pay people. That's why people work for companies and don't start out on their own.
 

Kinemon

Posts: 33   +29
Well, who's gonna leak the offer to back up their side of the story?

As someone who's not very familiar with VO work, I've got one problem with what I've been hearing so far: What about the other people working on the game?
Why would the voice actor get so much more per hour (and residuals) than, say, a senior programmer? An art lead? A project manager? I can understand more than $100/hr when you have to travel to a recording studio and whatnot. But six figures for a dozen or so hours of doing voice recordings? I'm not seeing where that make sense in the context of the rest of the team (most of whom would be putting in hundreds or thousands of hours each).

On the one hand, this isn't Hollywood (where the actors get paid obscene amounts compared to anyone around them).
On the other, you'd hope that a very successful game (franchise) would also reward all the people who worked on it with a bonus or something (even the people who put in relatively few hours but are noticeable)...

Maybe that's the problem. In Japan they respect voice actors. They realize they are as important to a character as an actor in a sitcom. Especially once established.

They are talent and if their talent contributes significantly to the game or shows success they should be paid accordingly.
It's weird because when actors do voice acting I'm pretty sure they get paid better. I am pretty sure Keanu Reeves got paid well for cyberpunk. I get that they used his image and motion capture as well.

There are many examples of Hollywood actors doing pure voice work though and I'm sure their compensation is higher than the people in the end credits.

The point is they will pay for voice work. They just don't want to. Only if your name or image on the front cover will sell more copies. But 99% of the talent is getting screwed.
 

Plutoisaplanet

Posts: 889   +1,418
Low amount? If the story is true they were offering $4000 for 4 hours work. That's $1000/hr. I don't know too many people that make that kind of money and I would hardly call that a "low amount".
Don't forget she can easily have a separate day job in addition to voice acting due to the flexibility of the gig. There's very few other people you have to coordinate with in voice acting because it's not live and unlike visual acting, it's way easier to edit sound and combine several discrete works.
 

emmzo

Posts: 811   +1,251
Don't forget she can easily have a separate day job in addition to voice acting due to the flexibility of the gig. There's very few other people you have to coordinate with in voice acting because it's not live and unlike visual acting, it's way easier to edit sound and combine several discrete works.
So, what? Nothing is fair in life, you'll only get what you negotiate. Ronaldo is a billionaire for kicking a ball. How is that fair to an astrophysicist, rocket engineer, whatever with an 180+ IQ? Some jobs pay better for doing less, while others work their a$$es for pennies.
 

m4a4

Posts: 3,178   +4,263
TechSpot Elite
Maybe that's the problem. In Japan they respect voice actors. They realize they are as important to a character as an actor in a sitcom. Especially once established.

They are talent and if their talent contributes significantly to the game or shows success they should be paid accordingly.
It's weird because when actors do voice acting I'm pretty sure they get paid better. I am pretty sure Keanu Reeves got paid well for cyberpunk. I get that they used his image and motion capture as well.

There are many examples of Hollywood actors doing pure voice work though and I'm sure their compensation is higher than the people in the end credits.

The point is they will pay for voice work. They just don't want to. Only if your name or image on the front cover will sell more copies. But 99% of the talent is getting screwed.
In Japan, they respect Japanese voice actors (from what I've seen), sure. But Mob Psycho 100 just switched EN voice actors because he mentioned "think about a union" (and I'm pretty sure that was towards a Japanese company). Not a video game, but in a similar vein.

Voice isn't as unique as using one's likeness. Much easier to replace. If anything, one could argue that a Lead Programmer is harder to replace than a character's voice actor.

That said, of course celebrities are going to get paid more. You're also paying for the name recognition (and the PR/following with that). You can blame celebrity culture for that discrepency.
The majority of people won't know a voice actor's name, unless they're actually a celebrity of some sort...
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
So, what? Nothing is fair in life, you'll only get what you negotiate. Ronaldo is a billionaire for kicking a ball. How is that fair to an astrophysicist, rocket engineer, whatever with an 180+ IQ? Some jobs pay better for doing less, while others work their a$$es for pennies.
What you say is true. However, the reason Ronaldo is a billionaire is that the sport he plays in generates billions in revenue. So, his work is directly tied to those revenues and the fact that he's good at his job. You rarely see people making "millions" in companies or industries that don't generate a lot of income. Hence, this is the reason why your rocket engineer doesn't make millions of dollars a year. That and there are 100 other rocket engineers who are just as good whereas there is only 1 Ronaldo.
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
Don't forget she can easily have a separate day job in addition to voice acting due to the flexibility of the gig. There's very few other people you have to coordinate with in voice acting because it's not live and unlike visual acting, it's way easier to edit sound and combine several discrete works.
That's true, though I don't think any employer would consider your ability to get side-jobs in a compensation discussion. I've always said your compensation is based on what it is you're doing and how easy is it for your employer to replace you with someone equally competent. In this case, it sounds like it was pretty easy because they found a replacement at the price they were willing to pay.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 1,010   +1,361
Why would the voice actor get so much more per hour (and residuals) than, say, a senior programmer? An art lead? A project manager? I can understand more than $100/hr when you have to travel to a recording studio and whatnot.

Just because those people are getting paid peanuts and are happy, it doesn't mean other equally crucial employees should be happy as well and not ask for more!
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 230   +127
Even if the picture took a trillion dollars to produce if that picture is presented with poor quality sound the end product is not going to be liked by the audience and they will reject it. On the other hand, if a mediocre quality image with minimal production costs is presented to the audience with good quality sound, they will love the final product.

So the sound (which can stand on its own as opposed to the picture) is almost everything for success.

On the other hand the dry vocals alone without processing have no particular value. Any human out of the billions available (even the vocaloid) if you put them behind a microphone if they are not stressed they will produce about the same quality vocals. With the exception few (under 10) really good singers alive. The one who turns them into gold is the sound engineer, so he's the one who's entitled to an eight-figure fee (not just six) on a project of that scale with total revenue around half billion.
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
Just because those people are getting paid peanuts and are happy, it doesn't mean other equally crucial employees should be happy as well and not ask for more!
Who said they're getting paid "peanuts"? I have gaming companies as customers and I'd say many of the coders/artist and so forth make a very decent living. Not like an actor, but not minimum wage.

And, how is a voice actor equally "crucial" as the game developer? Clearly they were able to replace her without much fuss. Honesty, I tend to skip over most of the cut-scenes in games.

Nothing wrong with asking for more, but when you're offered $1000/hour and that's not enough and you take it to social media to try and drum up some sympathy, it feels very greedy. Expecting to make $100K+ for less than half a week's work? Very greedy.
 

waclark

Posts: 788   +488
Even if the picture took a trillion dollars to produce if that picture is presented with poor quality sound the end product is not going to be liked by the audience and they will reject it. On the other hand, if a mediocre quality image with minimal production costs is presented to the audience with good quality sound, they will love the final product.

So the sound (which can stand on its own as opposed to the picture) is almost everything for success.

On the other hand the dry vocals alone without processing have no particular value. Any human out of the billions available (even the vocaloid) if you put them behind a microphone if they are not stressed they will produce about the same quality vocals. With the exception few (under 10) really good singers alive. The one who turns them into gold is the sound engineer, so he's the one who's entitled to an eight-figure fee (not just six) on a project of that scale with total revenue around half billion.
I disagree. Poor quality visuals cannot be overcome with great audio, at least not in movies and/or video games. Consider that a lot of people turn off background music in games. And, also consider that some people don't even listen to the cut-scenes in many video games. They are not called audio games for a reason. I would rate games in this order, 1) playability ie, is it fun? 2) visual quality ie, does it look good? and 3) audio, ie, does it sound good. I will take 1 and 2 over 3 every time.
 

tellmewhy

Posts: 230   +127
Consider that a lot of people turn off background music in games. And, also consider that some people don't even listen to the cut-scenes in many video games

They turn the music off or down because it’s not good enough. Good quality sound is super rare.

For example check that soundtrack from a popular game which is recorder with orchestra in LA Studio and mixed and mastered from experience professionals but still remains a little dull.

And check the same piece which I have reproduce just now
www.tiktok.com/@lunnaticsoul/video/7156393607132417286?is_from_webapp=1&sender_device=pc&web_id=7156396659475023366
 
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waclark

Posts: 788   +488
They turn the music off or down because it’s not good enough. Good quality sound is super rare.
There is some of that, but I find the music distracting. Even if you had the London Philharmonic playing the theme to Mario Bros, I'd still turn it off. It's not integral to the game. And I certainly wouldn't play a terrible game just because it had good music or voice acting.
 

Hassanabi

Posts: 7   +11
English voice acting is more often than not absolutely cringe-inducing garbage, more noticeably so in Japanese-made games or anime.

The voices don't fit the characters or you notice the obvious straining of their voices during emotional scenes or with the cutesy characters.

The English voice actors in FFXIV online and Genshin Impact make my ears bleed and these are popular franchises.

What this voice actress doesn't realize is that she's not the only one on the cast, what about the dubs in other languages? For GTA 5 you had 270 voice actors, imagine if one or a few received a 6-figure number, the rest would want (way) higher recompense as well.
 

Neatfeatguy

Posts: 1,093   +1,999
She should have done something simple, such as asked for a half of a percent of every sale for the first year the game sells.

If the game, we'll say, costs $50 and they sell 250,000 copies in that first year.
That's a total of $12,500,000.00
.005% of 12.5mil = $62,500.00
 

WhiteLeaff

Posts: 83   +118
I think her discontent is valid, while the salary of talented people who bring the games to life is low, the salary of the executives and CEOs of these companies only increases.

Worst of all, she is not a random NPC voice..
 

kiwigraeme

Posts: 1,399   +1,038
I have no fish to fry in this pan .
But there is a reason Pumba & Timon got more work .
Donkey by Eddie Murphy

Tara strong has a resume super super long - why I watch classic Hong Kong movies generally in Cantonese etc . I will listen to English dub for a couple of minutes in a movie - some are very high standard - if bad/so-so - subtitles for me .

If voices weren't too important - anyone could bang out your favourite song - as long as they keep roughly in tune .

Politicians have voice coaches