The raging commercial success (nearing a half billion) of Grand Theft Auto IV is bittersweet, says the voice behind Niko Bellic, because behind the scenes video game talent doesn't see royalties like movies and music stars.
"I'm incredibly thankful to Rockstar for the opportunity to be in this game when I was just a nobody," said Michael Hollick, who received $US100,000 for 15 months of voice-over work, according to the New York Times.
"But it's tough, when you see Grand Theft Auto IV out there as the biggest thing going right now, when they're making hundreds of millions of dollars, and we don't see any of it. I don't blame Rockstar. I blame our union for not having the agreements in place to protect the creative people who drive the sales of these games."
Unlike movies and music, the Screen Actor's Guild doesn't have policies in place to guarantee residual pay above and behind the work-for-hire rate, which Hollick knowingly agreed to before Grand Theft Auto IV became the biggest thing in 2008 since sliced bread.
Though Hollick asserts, "it's the human performances within [games] that people really connect to," others, like entertainment lawyer Ezra J. Doner, say "the conception of the creative director" drives game sales, not behind the scenes acting talent.
"The actor whose appearance or voice is used [in video games] is more analogous to a studio musicians [who] don't get residuals on the sales of the CD," says Doner. "It's not like the star quality of Tom Cruise that's getting people to buy a video game."