Update - October 18: Two new reports have disputed Bayonetta voice actor Hellena Taylor's claims that developer Platinum Games offered her just $4,000 to reprise her role in Bayonetta 3.
According to Bloomberg and VGC, both citing anonymous sources familiar with Platinum Games' negotiations as well as documentation related to the exchange, the studio was planning to hire Taylor back for multiple recording sessions for Bayonetta 3. Bloomberg says "at least five" sessions were planned, while VGC reports it could have been "as few as four."
Both reports agree that each four-hour session would have paid $3,000 to $4,000, putting the estimated minimum for the job at $15,000 – nearly four times the offer that Taylor called "insulting" in viral Twitter videos.
According to Bloomberg's sources, Taylor declined this offer and asked for a six-figure deal with added residuals (bonus pay contingent on a game's success). After Platinum Games refused, Taylor also reportedly turned down a cameo offer which would have come with one session worth of pay.
Taylor sent comments to both Bloomberg and VGC denying these claims. She told Bloomberg that this account of events is "an absolute lie" and said Platinum Games is "trying to save their ass and the game." In a statement to VGC, she maintained that, "I’ll just let my videos stand; I spoke the truth."
Platinum Games and Bayonetta 3 publisher Nintendo have yet to comment on this dispute or Taylor's latest remarks, barring comments from series director Hideki Kamiya, who briefly disappeared from Twitter after a series of tweets calling Taylor's claims untruthful.
Update, October 17: Jennifer Hale, the voice actor replacing Hellena Taylor in the title role for Bayonetta 3, has issued a brief statement on the ongoing voice acting pay controversy.
"As a longtime member of the voice acting community, I support every actor's right to be paid well and have advocated consistently for this for years," Hale says in a tweet. "Anyone who knows me, or has followed my career, will know that I have great respect for my peers, and that I am an advocate for all members of the community.
"I am under an NDA and am not at liberty to speak regarding this situation. My reputation speaks for itself. I sincerely ask that everyone keep in mind that this game has been created by an entire team of hard-working, dedicated people and I hope everyone will keep an open mind about what they've created. Finally, I hope that everyone involved may resolve their differences in an amicable and respectful way."
Original story, October 17: Long-serving Bayonetta voice actor Hellena Taylor has alleged being offered an ‘insulting’ $4,000 to reprise her role in the upcoming Bayonetta 3, encouraging fans to boycott the game, prompting an industry-wide conversation around the standards of pay.
While Platinum Games had initially put Taylor’s absence from the game to “various overlapping circumstances”, the actor explains on Twitter that it was very much about pay. The developer allegedly offered Taylor the role and lower remuneration following an audition, though Taylor eventually turned it down following dialogue with Hideki Kamiya that led to the final offer of $4,000.
Following Taylor’s statements, Kamiya tweeted: “Sad and deplorable about the attitude of untruth. That's what all I can tell now [sic]. By the way, beware of my rules.”
The rules Kamiya refers to involve blocking users on Twitter, which seemingly happened en masse until their account briefly ceased to exist – at the time of writing, it has returned.
Reacting to the news, one voice actor shares that they made more from their work on a 2D platformer called Freedom Planet 1 than voicing three characters in The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild and Hyrule Warriors: Age of Calamity. As Sean Chiplock explains on Twitter, the $2,000-$3000 they got per game for their work on the Zelda games were weighted against the number of hours they spent in the studio, whereas Galaxy Trail threw sales royalties into the Freedom Planet 1 deal.
Chiplock also says that voicing two Detective Pikachu characters was more lucrative than Breath of the Wild due to working a union-contracted day rate and royalties. “Yes, my two offscreen lines in Detective Pikachu have made me more than all of BOTW did,” they add.
Audio professional Eliana Zebro – who has priors with Comedy Central and other indie games – adds: “Here's some perspective for you. I'm a VO dialogue editor for games, and though I am not doing Bayonetta 3, I would make more money editing Hellena's lines for one month than she would make for voicing the entire game.”
Bayonetta 3’s current voice actor - Mass Effect 3's Jennifer Hale - hasn’t personally added to the conversation, though they have liked a number of tweets implying that current NDAs would naturally stop them from doing so, and that they weren’t aware of the situation.
We have contacted Platinum Games and Nintendo for comment and will update this story with any new information.
The treatment of voice actors in the larger entertainment industry has grabbed the headlines several times of late. Anime streaming server Crunchyroll came under fire after it was revealed that Mob Psycho 100 would see a new English voice actor take over the leading role of Shigeo “Mob” Kageyama, with long-serving actor Kyle McCarley alleging that this was due to his desire for a union contact.
This came as voice actors on other popular shows pulled back the curtain on how much they were getting paid, with several voice actors on the film Jujutsu Kaisen 0 alleging to being paid $150.
We previewed Bayonetta 3 ahead of release, finding a familiar formula with new twists.