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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."