Over the weekend, actor Hellena Taylor said Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya offered her a flat rate of $4,000 to reprise her role as the voice of Bayonetta in the upcoming Bayonetta 3 , a low ball she said she declined. Taylor’s statement has now been dismissed by two sources who spoke anonymously to Bloomberg (opens in a new tab)which says it has also obtained documentation related to the negotiations.
According to Bloomberg’s sources, “Platinum Games was looking to hire Taylor for at least five sessions, each paying $3,000 to $4,000 for four hours in the studio.” The total fee would be at least $15,000 if that were the case. Taylor, Bloomberg’s sources say, rejected the offer and “asked for a six-figure sum as well as residuals.” In the end, Platinum hired prolific voice actress Jennifer Hale, best known as Commander Shepard in Mass Effect, to take over the role.
Taylor told Bloomberg that its sources are telling an “absolute lie” and that Platinum Games is trying to save face. Platinum Games has not officially responded to Taylor’s claims. (Unless you count Kamiya calling Taylor’s videos “sad and deplorable” on Twitter before briefly deactivating her account.)
In 2016, voice actors represented by the SAG-AFTRA union, including Hale, went on strike to secure better pay for video game acting work. As Bloomberg says, they hoped to secure residuals in the form of bonuses when games they appear in are especially successful. They didn’t win that battle, but secured bonuses based on the number of sessions a role required. In 2020, that contract between SAG-AFTRA and nine major game publishers was extended until November 7 of this year.
According to Bloomberg, three sources say Platinum Games used union actors for Bayonetta 3, meaning they were paid at least the union minimum rates. (opens in a new tab).
Now that there’s disagreement about the offer made to Taylor, the conversation—by which I mostly mean the things people are saying on Twitter—has turned to the point of the matter, which is that voice actors don’t make particularly big bucks even to voice famous characters . Whether or not Taylor is ever vindicated, the scenario she described is not unheard of. Another actor, Bryan Decart, said he was offered (opens in a new tab) $4,000 to play the “protagonist of a triple-A game.”
Some will be surprised to learn that video game voice actors are paid per session, and do not earn additional money from games that sell many copies, or that are then distributed on new platforms, as TV stars do when shows are syndicated or published on. Blu-ray. The voice of Dandelion in the Witcher games, John Schwab, told The Guardian that he sympathized with the dissatisfaction expressed by Taylor and other voice actors.
“You get a few thousand pounds to play a main character, and then that video game makes $700 million,” he said. “How did that make you feel when you created the role?”
Hale, the new voice of Bayonetta, was pressed for comment by fans following Taylor’s videos. She said on Monday (opens in a new tab) that she could not speak openly about the situation due to an NDA, but later retweeted several comments in support of Bloomberg’s reporting.
There is no PC version announced for Bayonetta 3, which launches for the Switch on October 28th, although the name “Bayonetta 3” does appear on Nvidia’s list, which leaked a while back. Nvidia more or less said the list meant nothing, but multiple games that appeared on it were later announced for PC. That said, Bayonetta 3 is published by Nintendo, so it would be a big surprise if it happened.