One of the most anticipated games of the year has been marred by controversy. PlatinumGames’ upcoming title “Bayonetta 3” has had fans waiting since it was announced at The Game Awards 2017 show, where it was confirmed to be in development for the then recently released Nintendo Switch. That was all the information gamers would get until a trailer released in July revealed the game would launch on October 28.
Later in September, fans got their first look at gameplay via an 8-minute trailer, which not only showcased new gameplay systems, but also showed off the first instances of the titular character Bayonetta speaking. Fans were quick to notice that the vocals sounded a bit off compared to the previous two tracks.
Game director Yusuke Miyata has confirmed that former Bayonetta voice actor Hellena Taylor has been replaced by industry veteran Jennifer Hale, citing “various overlapping circumstances” as the reason for the redesign, according to a interview with Game Informer.
Fast forward to October, fans noticed a Twitter feed created by Taylor offering a different explanation as to why she wouldn’t return to voice Bayonetta: “The ‘Bayonetta’ franchise made about $450,000,000. That doesn’t include merchandise… What is it? that they offered to pay me? The final offer to do the whole game as a buyout, a flat rate, was $4,000.”
According to Taylor, after receiving what she described as “an insulting offer” following her successful reaudition for the character, she wrote to the Vice President of Platinum Games, as well as the lead writer of the previous two “Bayonetta” titles. “, Hideki Kamiya, in an attempt to renegotiate his offer. It is thanks to his response that she says she was offered the $4,000. Taylor’s thread also contained calls for fans to boycott the game and donate the money they allegedly spent to charity.
Kamiya apparently refuted Taylor’s claims in a Tweeter published shortly after his thread which reads “Sad and deplorable about the attitude of lying. That’s all I can say now.”
The subject of video game voice acting compensation has been a hot topic in the industry for years. Most notably, Rockstar Games’ “Grand Theft Auto IV” was a monumental commercial success. It grossed over $2 billion in total sales and won the Guinness World Record in 2008 for the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours at the time, among other accolades.
Despite this success, the game’s main voice actor, Michael Hollick, was only paid $100,000 for the 15 months he had spent on the project.
In response to her video, several voice industry figures came forward with their own experiences of undervaluing talent. Sean Chiplock, best known for his role as Revali in Nintendo’s ‘The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’. said that he had been similarly compensated for his work on the game, having been paid only $3,000 maximum when he had also lent his voice to two other characters.
While the fact remains that video game voice actors have a history of being underrated, there are a few aspects of Taylor’s story that just don’t seem to add up. Taylor (as well as Hale) would have been covered by rules negotiated by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists which set the minimum wage for voice actors at $1,000 per session.
Additionally, Taylor was slightly off-kilter explaining why she was recast. Although she stated in her thread “Platinum had the nerve to say I was busy. That they couldn’t make it work with Ms. Taylor’s schedule. Well, I only had of time,” in fact, all PlatinumGames had said about it was its previously mentioned statement about “overlapping circumstances.”
Most damning of all, however, was a report originally published by Bloomberg – and later corroborated by Video Games Chronicle – which cited an anonymous PlatinumGames insider’s account that claimed the developer was looking to have Taylor reprise her role as Bayonetta.
The developer offered a rate between $3,000 and $4,000 per session for more than four sessions, but recast it when Taylor demanded a six-figure payment, plus residuals from game sales – which are essentially unknown in the context of other AAA games.
PlatinumGames has yet to release an official statement regarding the situation, and since the game’s launch has already passed, it is unlikely to do so.