It was on Monday that Platinum Games officially reacted to the allegations of voice actress Hellena Taylor . As a reminder, the actress, in a punch operation, took the floor to denounce the treatment of which she would have been the victim, in defiance of the generally established non-disclosure agreements. She claimed that she had been offered a $4,000 fee for dubbing Bayonetta. She gives enough details about the situation, saying that this offer would have been made after she went to talk to the game’s director Hideki Kamiya .
A Platinum Games source offers journalist Jason Schreier , known for his commitment to the small hands behind our favorite games, a much different take on the situation. Platinum Games allegedly offered Hellena not $4,000 for the entire game, but per recording session. Additionally, the source reveals that while Hellena was in discussions with the studio, it was estimated that at least five industry-standard four-hour sessions would be required for the recording, according to two people involved in the negotiation.
Hellena Taylor would have refused the offer, since she would have demanded a total salary of at least $100,000 as well as rights to the residual value of the game. It was only after her refusal that the studio would have gone in search of a new voice actress, who turned out to be Jennifer Hale . As a show of goodwill, the studio also reportedly offered Hellena an in-game cameo for the price of one session.
It is difficult to imagine what the value of the residuals would be, since these rights, if considered, are generally negotiated under non-disclosure agreements. It is a sum of money paid when a cultural product (here, a video game) is republished or sold in a new form. Basically it’s a bit like royalties, except that “residuals” as they are generally called are generally earned as a result of syndicate action.
However, Helenna of course questions this version of the facts, since she explains in a message sent to Bloomberg, where the denial appeared, that this version is “a total lie”, and that Platinum Games tries to “save their interests and the game”. It’s impossible to judge who’s right or who’s wrong — Jason Schreier can’t divulge his sources, and it’s obvious that Helenna isn’t going to change her story now, after the story has been covered so much.
It is important to note the context in which this case takes place. On the one hand, the treatment of voice actors across the entertainment industry is a cause that is increasingly championed. On the other hand, chance wanted a case to bring Nintendo’s liability to the unions to the fore, which is, at the very least, not very rosy. If the Hellena Taylor affair was relayed so quickly, and so strongly, it is because we only very rarely benefit from a game in a vacuum. It is very likely that Japanese game fans also enjoy Japanese animation. However, in recent months, various English-speaking dubbers have returned to the contracts in force in the animation industry.
It is the affair around the film Jujutsu Kaisen 0, which developed less than a month before Hellena Taylor spoke, that one must seek to understand in part the outcry that immediately happened. following his videos. Indeed, two dubbers of the film in question spoke about their contracts: they would have been paid only $150 for all of their work on the film. While these are, again, mere allegations, the assertions of Chris Tergliafera (Kiyotaka Ichiji) and Anairis Quiñones (Rika Orimoto) dovetail with comments from other voice actors on this project.
It’s also a big enough case that the issue of unionizing the profession has come up again — and backed by other names in the business, like Zeno Robinson (Hawks in My Hero Academia). It would not be surprising if many people conflated the two industries, whose standards of treatment are very different. However, this does not mean that there is a problem vis-à-vis the considerations of developers, artists, dubbers, and more generally video game workers.
The worker fired in April had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (the office responsible for investigating illegal practices in the world of work), arguing that he was able to prove that his dismissal was related to a meeting where he had mentioned unionization. If the investigation will not succeed, it is because Nintendo half-heartedly admits that Mackenzie had hit the nail on the head: the company and the tester were able to reach an agreement for more than $25,000.
This context only fuels tensions, which Hellena Taylor , with her videos, will have made fruitful. Now, whether it’s justified, or whether the history between Platinum Games and the former Bayonetta voice actress becomes a warning of how some manipulate public opinion to their advantage, only justice, if the case in arrives there, can decide.