SAG-AFTRA signs agreement with Replica Studios regarding AI voice-acting in games

As SAG-AFTRA continues negotiations with major video game companies, the recent agreement could be a major milestone in those talks.

Image via SAG-AFTRA

SAG-AFTRA and software company Replica Studios have signed an agreement in regards to voice actor AI performance replication. AI in voice-acting, art, and entertainment in general has been a hot button issue and SAG-AFTRA has been in heated negotiations with various companies about its use. With this agreement, rights and compensation have been secured for voice actors whose voice and likenesses are used in AI replication for video game projects.

SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and Replica Studios CEO Shreyas Nivas shared details about the agreement at CES 2024, as shared by Deadline. Terms of the deal include the digital voice replica creation and their use in games. It includes various safeguards for voice actors, such as consent for creation of digital voice replicas, a minimum rate for the actors to be paid, and the length of use before further payment and consent is required. It also demands safe storage of voice actor data and transparency on what the content will be used for.

SAG-AFTRA News' tweet about the deal between the guild and Replica Studios
SAG-AFTRA's deal with Replica Studios regarding compensation for use of voice-acting AI replicas will go into effect as it continues to negotiate with video game companies under threat of strike.
Source: SAG-AFTRA News

Artificial intelligence has been a hot topic around recent SAG-AFTRA negotiations. Where the guild came to terms with various entertainment companies to end a strike in 2023, it also authorized a strike in regards to video game companies that might use AI performances without compensation or consent. Crabtree-Ireland indicated that SAG-AFTRA could end up on strike against major video game companies, including Activision Productions Inc., Disney Character Voices Inc., Electronic Arts Productions Inc., Epic Games, Inc., Insomniac Games Inc., Take-Two Productions Inc., and WB Games Inc. That is, unless those companies come to the table like Replica did.

“I expect that that agreement will need to either move forward, or we’ll be seeing more activity in that area in the coming weeks,” Crabtree-Ireland said. “I’m hopeful and optimistic that video game companies will learn from the example presented by Replica. Let’s hope that’s the case.”

It will indeed remain to be seen if that is indeed the case, especially with Activision now having the backing of Microsoft. Nonetheless, the deal between SAG-AFTRA and Replica looks like a positive step forward in regards to AI voice-acting and compensation. Stay tuned for further updates as they become available.

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TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      January 9, 2024 10:31 AM

      SAG-AFTRA inks deal with Replica Studios to allow AI recreation of the union actor's voices in video games.

       The deal includes minimum rates and terms that require safe storage of performer data, transparency around the nature of the content of digital replica will be used for, performer consent for use of their replica in any new project, limitations on the amount of time that a performance replica can be employed without further payment, and consent.

      • reply
        January 9, 2024 11:35 AM

        Safe storage. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Any place they put that stuff will instantly be the target of so many attacks.

        • reply
          January 9, 2024 1:21 PM

          What's going to happen if they don't? Someone is going to release a commercial product using a replica of someone's voice and that person won't find out and sue them for unlicensed usage of their replica?

          • reply
            January 9, 2024 1:28 PM

            Anonymous bootleg celebrity porn.

            • reply
              January 9, 2024 2:45 PM

              if you're a public figure there's already more than enough training data to make a convincing voice clone for that sort of thing. Hell, if you've made a handful of TikTok videos there's enough.

              • reply
                January 9, 2024 3:20 PM

                Just because it's possible doesn't mean they shouldn't be appropriately compensated for offering the rights. I wouldn't be surprised if platforms like tiktok and YouTube will provide mechanisms to allow artists and other creators voices (and any claimed likenesses) to be generated and licensed. It will probably recalibrate some actors' worth. It won't stop unlicensed use, but I think it should allow actors to manage the use of their likeness on moderated, regulated commercial platforms? It does open a can of worms regarding what might otherwise constitute fair use though... Has there been a precedent for this yet?

                Protection of source recordings seems performative though. Unless the industry suddenly invents some kind of unstrippable DRM while we all roll our eyes hard. I don't think anyone's going to bother trying to hack that data but we've seen how poor everyone game studios are regardless, so it's inevitable.

                • reply
                  January 9, 2024 4:29 PM

                  Protection of source recordings seems performative though.

                  yeah that's all I'm saying. These people obviously should be compensated for their work. So if someone attempts to make commercial works with unlicensed voice clones, whether from stealing this data or just using 'open source' recordings, they're going to have the same legal problems. And likewise for non-commercial projects if you don't care about the reputational/legal risks of unlicensed voice clones then you likewise will probably happily use whatever source is available. The presence or lack of access to these particular clones is unlikely to impact your ability to ship whatever unsavory idea you have.

          • reply
            January 9, 2024 1:55 PM

            We've already seen leaked game assets used for porn.

            Commercial isn't the only concern but also reputation.

            Especially with AI voice generation.

          • reply
            January 9, 2024 3:03 PM


      • reply
        January 9, 2024 12:38 PM

        Someone surprise me and say they actually specify penalties for failing to safely store performer data

      • rms legacy 10 years legacy 20 years mercury super mega
        January 9, 2024 4:22 PM

        Wow. It is amazing how fast this is moving. The Congress (2013) briefly goes into this in the first half of the film, if anyone's interested

    • reply
      January 10, 2024 5:28 AM

      Though this was a deal that SAG-AFTRA said had 80% of its members' support, a number of the union's VAs are going "da fuck?" and had no knowledge this was happening.

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