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Videogame publishers launch website attacking voice actors' union over strike [Updated]

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Update: SAG-AFTRA has issued a statement in response to the website, calling on the companies involved to take down the "counterfeit" site.

In a press release sent to PC Gamer a couple of days ago, the union states that it has "issued a demand to the public relations representative and negotiations attorney for the 11 video game corporations the union is striking. The demand directs the PR rep to immediately cease infringing the union’s trademark and desist in its promotion of a deceptive website that masquerades as a SAG-AFTRA communications platform".

"Citing the potential for confusion generated around the game companies’ use of SAG-AFTRA trademarks on this website and the absurdity of attempting such disingenuous tactics, union counsel issued a demand ordering the take down of the counterfeit website".

That website, by the way, is still online.

Original story:

A coalition of videogame companies including Activision, Disney, Electronic Arts, and Take-Two have launched a website at criticizing the SAG-AFTRA union that represents striking voice and motion capture actors. The site claims that the difference between the two sides was almost negligible, but that the union "never communicated what was on the table" to its membership ahead of the decision to walk away from negotiations. 

"Our offer of a 9% wage increase accelerates the entire payment into the first year – an improvement over the three-year, 3% per year increase that the Union was seeking. It also includes for the first time Additional Compensation for Principal Performers (who work on more than one session on a game)." the site says. "This structure for Additional Compensation is so close to what SAG-AFTRA is demanding monetarily that we believe most performers would conclude the differences are not worth striking over." 

The site offers a detailed breakdown of what the union wants and what the game companies offered, including wage increases, transparency, and relief from vocal stress. It even includes a handy color-coded comparison chart for your industrial dispute edification. There are also links to publisher-friendly news stories and tweets from the SAG-AFTRA Videogames account. But it's the effort to drive a wedge between union members and its leadership that stands out. 

"SAG-AFTRA: Let your members vote on the Companies’ proposal," the site says. "A prolonged strike only benefits non-union video game producers and non-union performance interests within the video game industry. It will also discourage the unorganized majority of developers and publishers from working with SAG-AFTRA in the future." 

I have to think that the remark about non-union performers would be a particularly pointed barb from the union's perspective, since it only represents a minority of performers to begin with: Less than 25 percent of the game currently on the market feature performers who are members. I've reached out to SAG-AFTRA for comment and will update when I receive a reply. 

Thanks, Polygon.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.