If you are an avid gamer, you may have noticed that there are different voices for characters and games. Video game voice acting is a job, so each word, grunt, scream, and vocalization is performed by a real person. They get paid to make your games sound as realistic as possible. The better the performance, the higher the pay. How much do these voice actors get paid, exactly?
Experienced video game voice actors will receive $200 to $350 an hour or $50 to $200 per 100 words for their video game voice acting work. Novice voice actors earn between $1 and $5 per 100 words. Video game voice actors are also eligible for bonuses up to $2,100.
Video game voice acting is an emerging market. It can be lucrative, and how much you make will depend on several different factors. These include your level of experience, your voice, the size of the job, and the fine print in your contract. Read on to see how these different aspects impact how much video game voice actors will get paid per job.
How Much Do Video Game Voice Actors Get Paid?
Voice acting is narrating a performance. There is no video involved, so you could be voice acting when you record an audiobook, an animated series, and even a video game. There are many different ways voice actors can perform their duties, so the rate at which people are compensated fluctuates depending on several different factors.
However, typically, video game voice actors will receive between $200 and $350 per hour, with a minimum of two to four hours guaranteed per job. If you are working on a union contract, if a single session lasts up to four hours, you could be making $850 for a single session. This rate is typically for more seasoned video game voice actors.
If the pay is by word, novice video game voice actors can earn between $1 and $5 per 100 words, while more seasoned video game voice actors can earn $50 to $200 per 100 words. Video game voice actors can also receive bonuses for their work too, which typically do not exceed $2,100. All pay is outlined clearly in the voice actor’s contract.
If a job is particularly stressful on the vocal cords, the session may need to be split up. Stressful vocal jobs can include:
- Constant fighting
These multiple sessions will help ensure that the video game voice actor is not under too much strain. There is not a standard rate for all cases and it can vary based on any number of factors. Your rate will increase over time.
What Factors Can Impact Pay Rate?
Novice voice actors will typically receive lower rates. They do not yet have the experience, reputation, and trust of employers. Over time, their reputation will grow, and as it does, their rates will increase along with it. There are exceptions to this rule, and there are things you can do to set yourself apart from other voice actors and make yourself more desirable in the field.
When marketing yourself, you want to be sure to highlight what makes you special if you do not have a lot of experience to fall back on. The following factors can impact your rate positively, no matter how experienced you are:
- Age, gender, and voice quality
- Special skills
These are not the only factors that can impact how much you will be paid as a video game voice actor; however, they are some of the most important. As long as you turn in high-quality work on time and are easy to work with, you will build a reputation that will precede you in the industry. With a little patience, you will be making a higher rate in no time.
Age, Gender, and Voice Quality
Much like traditional acting, some video games have very clear ideas in mind for what they want their characters to sound like. Your age, gender, and how your voice sounds will impact the types of game contracts you can get. Because your acting is not on camera, your appearance will not matter when auditioning for video game voice acting gigs.
When going for jobs, ensure that your voice matches the type of game that is being advertised. For example, if you have a calming voice, it typically would not mesh well with an aggressive action game and vice versa. Rates may be higher for jobs that are more challenging or straining on the actor’s voice because they require extended yelling.
The cool thing about voice acting is that you will not get typecast based on how you look. Instead, practice your vocal range and diversify your talents. It will help you get a bigger variety of video game voice acting jobs. You may also want to take health precautions like eating right and not smoking to preserve your voice quality.
Video game voice actors who have special skills are in high demand. Special skills can include all of the following and much more:
- Speaking multiple languages
- Making unique sounds
- Having a unique speaking style
These special skills help you to shine among the competition and can make you a better value for potential employers, impacting how much you will get paid.
For example, if you are bilingual, you can record the sounds and storyline in multiple languages. That will help develop a cohesive feel across the game no matter what language a player is playing in, especially if they switch between versions. Another bonus is that developers will not have to find additional actors. Being bilingual makes you a better, more valuable asset.
Think about different vocal talents you have and be boastful in listing all of them. These can include special sounds you can make, singing, reciting the alphabet backward – anything that will help you stand out in the field. Special skills like these are important, but make sure that you can deliver on all skills you list on your resume.
If you are just starting, but you are really good, this will quickly be noticed, especially if you are working with a studio. Just because you have not been working in the field for years, does not mean that you are not highly skilled. Know your worth when you are negotiating for contracts, understanding that you will still likely get a lower rate than those more established.
Unique voices that are in high demand can help you to get the job of your dreams and allow you to negotiate a fair rate. Your expertise can be supplemented by great quality work that is delivered on time or even ahead of schedule. This will help support your expertise with a great reputation that you can build upon for years to come.
Do Video Game Voice Actors Get Royalties?
One of the most common questions asked about video game voice acting is whether or not the voice actors receive royalties from their work. Royalties are residual sums that are paid to voice actors in perpetuity. This could be because a voice is being used in other games or promotional material if the game is re-released, and so on.
People want to know if, like other actors, whether voice actors get royalties for their video game voice acting. It is not industry standard for video game voice actors to get royalties. Video game voice actors typically only get royalties if it is outlined in their contract, and this is something that you should negotiate before signing a contract.
Freelance video game voice actors can advocate for this as they negotiate the terms on the contract, as well as the number of sessions the job will take. Video game voice actors who are part of a studio should check with their studio if this is part of their contract negotiations or if it can be added. This will likely not be part of standard contracts.
Video game voice actors have been advocating to receive royalties; however, at this time, it is not typical for video game voice actors to get royalties unless outlined directly in their contracts. Keep in mind that whatever you receive from your video game acting work, you will need to claim on your taxes, including any royalties over time.
How Does Video Game Voice Acting Work?
Some people may think that video game voice acting is very simple since the actors do not need to be seen, only heard. This is not the case. It is challenging to voice act, and even more challenging to find the right job for you. There are many different options out there to be a video game voice actor, and your path depends on your preference.
Video game voice actors can typically choose one of two routes, and the road you choose can impact the type of jobs you get, how much you get paid, and if you will receive royalties. Here are two of the most common ways that video game voice actors get work:
- Freelancing, which means that you find your own jobs, negotiate your own contracts and serve as your only boss and best advocate for your work.
- Joining a studio, which will let you focus on the acting and leave the fine print and the details to someone else, including finding the jobs, negotiating contracts, and more.
Both freelancing and joining a studio have their pros and cons, and there is no right or wrong way to voice act for video games as long as you get the job done right and on time, fully meeting your client’s expectations. However, which route you choose may impact the number of jobs you receive and the rate at which you are paid.
As a video game voice actor, you can choose to freelance. There are many different ways that you can source jobs. Consider checking internet job postings, freelancer communities, and social media. Some find jobs through word of mouth and other sources, too. Once you find the posting for you, you will need to apply for it.
There will be a hiring process where you will need to try out for the role, much like any acting position. You may be required to show samples, test records, or show your skills in live-action. Depending on the number of applicants, it may take some time for you to learn if you got the job. Once hired, they will share a contract with you.
Your contract will outline your rate, any bonuses, number of sessions, and all other details pertaining to your employment. If you are eligible for royalties, it will say so here. If it does not, you can try to negotiate royalties to be added to your contract, though be prepared for them to decline to add them. Royalties are not widely paid in video game voice acting.
Once the contract is signed, you can get to work recording the script. You will need to do multiple takes, so be prepared to get creative direction from your client and re-record several times until they are happy with the end product. Following the completion of the job, you will get paid. If you get royalties, you will get residual checks from time to time.
Unlike freelancing, when you join a studio, they bring the jobs to you and advocate on behalf of you to get the job. You set up a profile, which includes your rate, preferred work style, skills and experience, different abilities, and so on. The more robust your profile, the easier they will be able to sell you since they can only speak to what is listed.
Consult with your studio about their practice of royalties. They may already include that in the negotiation or you can ask that they do it on your behalf. Again, these are not included as industry standards so you need to ask. If they say no, at least you tried. No studio is going to drop you because you are trying to advocate for yourself as an actor.
They will present your profile to clients, and the clients will select you from their portfolio. They are your advocate for jobs, so studios do receive a commission based on your work. This is standard practice for most studios, though you will want to check to see if they are taking out taxes too. This will vary if you are a contractor or an employee.
The process of video game acting is very similar. You will receive your script and record your parts. The studio will serve as the in-between to get notes and help you to improve your performance if needed. You will have to re-record until the job is complete. Unlike freelancing, many platforms require clients to pre-fund work so you do not have to worry about getting paid.
What Are the Hazards of Voice Acting?
Typical actors may face stunts or have to complete work that is hard on the body. This is not the case for video game voice acting, but it can be just as taxing on the body in different ways, specifically the vocal cords. Because vocal acting is spoken only, most of the stress on the body is focused on one area as opposed to the whole body.
In video games especially, actors are required to scream, command, and generally speak loudly for hours on end. Not only do they need to talk, but they also need to make various noises. These sounds often carry a range of emotions and they need to be recorded multiple times with different contexts to be used at various points throughout the game.
Because of this, video game voice acting can be very taxing on your vocal cords. Many people think that voice acting for video games is not challenging, but that is just not the case. It forces an actor to display a full range of emotions without relying on their facial expressions or body language to tell the story. Instead, they need to emote only using their voice.
Video game animation has come a long way, but it still depends heavily on the voice to carry the story. There is a great responsibility on the voice actor to make sure it is a compelling one, adding great ambiance to the narrative without distracting from the action at hand. It is a deceptively difficult and time-consuming job for the voice actor.
Video Game Voice Acting: Is It Worth It?
Despite being around for decades, video game voice actors are not as well compensated as more traditional acting routes, but that is not to say it is not an incredible job. Video game voice actors can get paid up to $850 for four hours of work and get bonuses for great performances. It can be lucrative once an actor is established.
Many factors can impact how much video game voice actors get paid, and it may cause strain on your vocal cords over time. This is because of the strenuous nature of many of the scripts, which call for yelling, screaming, or other noises. It is a complex, skilled job that can be fun for the voice actor with a diverse vocal range who is up for a challenge.
Video game voice acting can be a fun and lucrative career, and it offers actors many options for employment. The pay varies depending on several factors including experience, reputation, special abilities, and more.
Whether or not a voice actor works on their own as a freelancer or through a studio, they should be prepared to work hard and take care of their voice to broaden their vocal range. The wider the range, the higher the rate.