Actors union SAG-AFTRA votes to authorize a video game strike, should it be needed

(Image credit: SAG-AFTRA)

SAG-AFTRA members have voted 98.32% in favor of authorizing potential video game strike action.

The union announced the result of the ballot earlier today, September 26, in which 34,687 members cast ballots, representing 27.47% of eligible voters. The outcome was resoundingly in favor of strike action over the Interactive Media Agreement, which covers members working on video games, but it doesn't guarantee that actors will strike - only that they have authorization to strike should it come to it.

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SAG-AFTRA has been negotiating with numerous video game companies, including Activision Blizzard King, EA, Insomniac, Epic Games, Take 2 Productions, and WB Games, since October 2022, through five rounds of bargaining so far. The union has sought wages that better keep up with inflation, safety precautions, and protections against "exploitative uses of artificial intelligence."

The next bargaining sessions between SAG-AFTRA and the aforementioned companies is slated to begin later today on September 26, and last for two days until September 28. The union hopes that the "added leverage" of strike authorization will "compel the companies to make significant movement on critical issues" where the two parties are "still far apart."

"It's time for the video game companies to stop playing games and get serious about reaching an agreement on this contract," said SAG-AFTRA president Fran Drescher. "The result of this vote shows our membership understands the existential nature of these negotiations, and that the time is now for these companies - which are making billions of dollars and paying their CEOs lavishly - to give our performers an agreement that keeps performing in video games as a viable career."

"Between the exploitative uses of AI and lagging wages, those who work in video games are facing many of the same issues as those who work in film and television," added SAG-AFTRA chief contracts officer Ray Rodriguez. "This strike authorization makes an emphatic statement that we must reach an agreement that will fairly compensate these talented performers, provide common-sense safety measures, and allow them to work with dignity. Our members' livelihoods depend on it."

This news follows the day after the WGA strike was temporarily suspended yesterday, September 25, pending the ratification of a tentative agreement. The SAG-AFTRA strike for actors is still ongoing, however, with no new deal having been reached between the union and studios, after it originally kicked off earlier this year in July 2023.

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You can read our new games 2023 guide for a look ahead at titles launching throughout the rest of this year and beyond. 

Hirun Cryer

Hirun Cryer is a freelance reporter and writer with Gamesradar+ based out of U.K. After earning a degree in American History specializing in journalism, cinema, literature, and history, he stepped into the games writing world, with a focus on shooters, indie games, and RPGs, and has since been the recipient of the MCV 30 Under 30 award for 2021. In his spare time he freelances with other outlets around the industry, practices Japanese, and enjoys contemporary manga and anime.