SAG-AFTRA and Video Game Companies to Resume Contract Talks

The union’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland says new dates for negotiations will be announced soon

Mortal Kombat 1 videogame trailer
"Mortal Kombat 1" (Warner Bros. Games)

Nearly three weeks since contract renewal negotiations first broke down between SAG-AFTRA and the video game industry, the union announced Monday that talks will resume soon.

National executive director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said that exact dates for revisiting negotiations on the Interactive Media Agreement are to be determined.

The news comes just days after a New York Comic Con panel covering artificial intelligence in the industry, which featured members of the Interactive Media Agreement committee and Crabtree-Ireland. Speaking at the Saturday event on the impact of the recently concluded Writers Guild of America strike and the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, Crabtree-Ireland applauded the power of the people.

“We can stand up and say this is the kind of world we want to live in. This is the kind of content we want, which is authentic content that’s not made by ripping people off, whether it’s voices or images or anything else,” he said. “That is within our power. All we have to do is say no and stand up and stand together.”

Many of the issues that led both guilds to strike are echoed in the concerns surrounding the Interactive Media Agreement ratification, particularly AI, as, according to the union, “video game actors are particularly vulnerable to having their likeness, voices and performances stolen without informed consent or fair compensation.”

Negotiations between the actors’ union and video game companies — including Activision-Blizzard, Epic Games, Insomniac, WB Games, Electronic Arts, Take 2, Formosa Interactive, Blindlight, VoiceWork Productions and Disney Character Voices — ended Sept. 28 with no deal, but the current contract was extended in hopes of reaching a deal without a second strike. That strike, however, was authorized earlier that same week should talks prove unsuccessful by an overwhelming 98.32% margin.

“SAG-AFTRA and video game employers concluded scheduled negotiations for the Interactive Media Agreement. No deal was reached and the current agreement will remain in effect while the parties make final efforts to reach a deal,” the guild said at the time.

Negotiations on a renewed Interactive Media Agreement between SAG-AFTRA and the video game companies have been ongoing for nearly a year.

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