SAG-AFTRA has been in the spotlight a lot this past year after organizing a strike for Hollywood actors and writers. And now, as AI risks artists’ livelihoods more than ever before, SAG-AFTRA has turned its attention to interactive media.
The “Interactive Media Agreement” with entertainment union SAG-AFTRA is a working conditions agreement covering all performers associated with a piece of “interactive media” — aka video games. These performers range from voice actors to motion-capture actors to musicians and everything in between. SAG-AFTRA is the entertainment industry union that represents these workers, alongside numerous influencers and content creators in its ranks.
Representatives from the union advocate for fair pay, good working conditions, and protection from AI. While an Interactive Media Agreement (IMA) with larger game developers is still ongoing, SAG-AFTRA has formed a new, separate IMA. The union says this is specifically for the benefit of “indie game developers.”
This new IMA will essentially allow some indie studios to cast union performers on projects. This is something these studios were previously prohibited from doing.
To be eligible for the new deal, indie game developers must have a budget ranging from $250,000 to $15 million. Their budget must also correspond to the following tiers:
- Tier 1 — $250,000 to < $1 Million
- Tier 2 — $1 Million to < $5 Million
- Tier 3 — $5 Million to < $15 Million
Along with stronger AI protections, performers under this IMA deal will also get a cut of the earnings from the game’s sales. Specifically, it also covers rates for voice-over sessions, off-camera singing, on-camera singing and dancing, and performance capture.
This IMA replaces the union’s old Low Budget Agreement and has also adjusted budget caps to enable more projects to qualify. Some people questioned whether or not the $250,000 cap is too high, as some indie games have much smaller budgets.
“We have heard from independent developers that they would like to hire union performers, but their budgets restrict them from utilizing the traditional IMA, even when our members deeply want to do this work,” SAG-AFTRA said in a FAQ.
“With feedback from the dev community and professional video game actors, our Interactive Media Agreement Negotiating Committee and staff crafted this new agreement to fit the unique needs of this community, which represents roughly a third of the industry.”