New AFTRA Video Game Contract Includes First Streaming Payment

The 15% supplementary payment is akin to a one-time residual.

The American Federation of Television and Radio Artists reached a tentative agreement Thursday for artists who work in the video game industry that includes the industry's first streaming payment model.

The new AFTRA Interactive Media Agreement, set to run through 2014, will give an additional one-time payment of 15 percent of the session fee to every principal performer on a video game made available through streaming services. Companies have the option of paying the fee at the time the performer works or upon commercial release of the product.

The AFTRA Interactive Media Negotiating Committee unanimously approved the tentative agreement.

"We now have a clear and enforceable provision where performers will see real dollars immediately," AFTRA chief negotiator and assistant national executive director Mathis L. Dunn Jr. said in a written statement. "Cloud gaming is a growing part of the digital future and AFTRA is in on the ground floor. This new provision guarantees that AFTRA members will continue to be a vital and relevant part of the gaming community."

The agreement covers performers who work in interactive media, such as personal computer programs, arcade games, and interactive computer and video animation. The preliminary contract includes a 1 percent increase on all minimum compensation, bringing the minimum fee for a four-hour session to $809, and an additional 2 percent increase on minimum compensation effective May 1, 2013, which brings the same session fee to $825.

The proposed agreement also provides for a 0.5 percent increase in contributions to the AFTRA Health and Retirement Fund, bringing the rate to 15.5 percent.

AFTRA negotiated the first union agreement for performers in the video game industry in the early 1990s. The current agreement expires June 30. SAG also had an interactive agreement, but guild members failed to ratify the agreement in the last contract cycle.

AFTRA's National Administrative Committee will review the details of the new contract for approval on June 22. The contract will then be sent out for ratification to members who have worked under the contract in the past, a pool that amounts to about 2,500-3,000 members.

The negotiating committee will begin bargaining the next contract no later than September 2014.

Additional reporting was contributed by Jonathan Handel