[Update: Since the story broke, Hideki Kamiya deactivated or removed his Twitter account (@pg_kamiya) briefly. No public explanation was given, but earlier on Kamiya’s account was “temporarily restricted” by Twitter. Theories suggest it was related to triggering Twitter’s automated systems, possibly thanks to his well-known tendency to block other accounts. The account went back online on October 17th.]
Hellena Taylor, the voice actor who originally voiced the Bayonetta from the Bayonetta series, urged fans to boycott the upcoming release of Bayonetta 3, due to “legal but immoral” business practices. She felt that PlatinumGames’s flat offer of $4000 USD to voice the entire game was “insulting.”
Taylor went into more detail in a series of videos posted to Twitter.
— Hellena Taylor (@hellenataylor) October 15, 2022
Taylor starts by explaining that she spent 7 and a half years training to be an actress. She spent four of those years with the “legendary” Larry Moss. However, she felt that the offer of $4000 USD was a sign of disrespect for that time and money. She urges fans to stand up for the unfair treatment of workers and to donate the money they would have spent on Bayonetta 3 to charity. In total, the Bayonetta franchise made over $450 million before merchandise.
Taylor has also spoken up on her anxiety and suicidal tendencies as a result of financial worries. She explained that she had to audition for the role for Bayonetta 3, which is standard practice. However, the initial offer was “insulting.” After she wrote a letter to Bayonetta creator Hideki Kamiya, Kamiya replied that he valued her talents and treasured his memory of meeting her. Though Taylor was optimistic, this letter was when she got the offer of $4000 USD. Ultimately, Taylor was replaced for Bayonetta 3, with the role going to Jennifer Hale. Hale has also played roles like Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series.
Hideki Kamiya has indirectly responded on Twitter, decrying an “attitude of untruth”, and calling the situation “sad and deplorable.” When it confirmed that Bayonetta had been recast for Bayonetta 3, PlatinumGames claimed that the recasting was due to “overlapping circumstances” and “scheduling conflicts.”
Taylor’s complaints come at a time when voice actor pay is a hot topic in the game and anime industries. Over the past weeks and months, some English-language voice actors who played roles in popular anime and games have come forward to speak about their working conditions and pay. Chris Tergliafera, who voiced Kiyotaka Ijichi in Jujutsu Kaisen 0, revealed he was paid $150 USD for the job. In September 2022, Kyle McCarley stated that he would not return as Mob in the English dub of Mob Psycho 100 season 3. In McCarley’s case, the dispute was over his insistence on negotiating union contracts for future productions with Crunchyroll, which he claims preferred to recast the role than negotiate.
In Bayonetta 3‘s case, Jennifer Hale, the new voice of Bayonetta, is represented by the SAG-AFTRA union in the U.S. She was a vocal presence in a SAG-AFTRA-led strike that took place in 2016 and 2017, picketing leading game publishers over failed negotiations for SAG-AFTRA contracts. According to the Voice Over Resource Guide, the standard SAG-AFTRA rate charges roughly $1917.25 USD for a 6-Hour session voicing a video game (not including pension & health contributions paid by the employer). Speaking to CBC in 2016 about the strike, Hale commented that the average voice recording session for a game in North America is about 4 hours long for a single actor.
Bayonetta 3 will come out for the Nintendo Switch on October 28, 2022.