Genshin Impact Voice Actors Say They’re Not Getting Paid

Genshin Impact is one of the biggest, most successful video games in the world, bringing in tens of millions of dollars a month for developer/publisher miHoYo. However, according to some voice actors involved with the popular game, they don’t get paid for months, and it’s causing some to possibly fall behind on rent.

Launched in 2020, Genshin Impact is a free-to-play gacha-driven online anime-themed action-RPG featuring a large roster of characters who work together to defeat enemies using elemental magic attacks. The game has been a massive hit from the moment it first went live and has spawned a giant community of players around the world. However, despite all the money and success the game has brought developer miHoYo, two voice actors who have worked on the game have publicly shared frustration about their pay on Twitter.

On July 12, Corina Boettger and Brandon Winckler, two voice actors who have voiced characters in Genshin Impact, tweeted how frustrated they were and claimed that money owed to them had yet to be paid months later. Boettger voices popular NPC Paimon and Winckler voices various minor characters in the RPG.

Winckler explained that he has sent five emails to miHoYo asking for the company to pay him, but has yet to receive any response. He said it was “inexcusable” that he has had to wait over four months for his paycheck, while he estimates the publisher brings in over $85 million a month. Between 2020 and 2021, Genshin Impact reportedly generated a total of $3.7 billion.

“It’s really hard to justify working on something for the sake of work when you can’t afford to eat,” tweeted Winckler. “Many non-union productions have this problem, I’ve waited anywhere from four to eight months for payment, and even then, it isn’t much to ask. $1000 here, $500 there, and it adds up fast.”

Winckler added that while he loves working on video games, he won’t be working on Genshin Impact anymore, saying that the game should be a “union production” with a union contract and protections.

Fellow actor Corina Boettger also tweeted about frustrations over lack of pay, saying they had worked for “months” unpaid on a “big project.” Boettger claims they are owed thousands of dollars and is currently struggling to pay rent because of the delayed payments. While Boettger didn’t directly say Genshin Impact in the tweets, follow-up replies make it clear what project the actor is referring to in their public statements.

“This project has made BILLIONS,” said Boettger. “This project should be Union. This wouldn’t happen if the game was union. Tell them to make the game SAG.”

Boettger further added that while they’re not sure if the developers, publisher, or someone else are to blame for the payment issues, they believe that if the game was union none of this would be happening.

Kotaku contacted miHoYo, Boettger, and Winckler for comment, but didn’t hear back before publication.

Unions in the video game industry aren’t as common as in other industries, like film or manufacturing, but that has started to change in recent years. First, QA testers at Call of Duty studio Raven Software unionized, followed by testers at BioWare, Blizzard, and Bethesda. Developers at Proletariat Studio previously tried to unionize everyone at the studio outside of management but were ultimately unsuccessful. And on Monday, Sega of America’s office in Irvine, California successfully voted to unionize.

Outside of Microsoft, no video game publisher has volantarily recognized any of these unions, and Activision has reportedly tried to bust up the unions within its large organization.

Update 07/14/2023 11:05 a.m. ET: A representative from HoyoVerse sent Kotaku a statement in response to the allegations of delayed payments.

“We truly regret to learn about the ongoing situation. Genshin Impact values and respects the work and effort of everyone involved, and we support our voice actors to claim their proper due. We have made payments to our recording studio on time, and we have immediately urged the studio to pay our voice actors. Meanwhile, we are also seeking alternative solutions. We will keep everyone posted on further developments.”

Metal Gear Solid Paid Voice Actor Jennifer Hale Only $1,200

Voice actor Jennifer Hale needs little introduction, having gained fame playing characters like Metroid Prime’s Samus Aran, Bastila Shan from Knights of the Old Republic, and of course Mass Effect’s one true Commander Shepard. She’s also known for Konami’s Metal Gear Solid series, in which she’s played the shifty geneticist Naomi Hunter since the series’ inception in 1998. But in a recent podcast appearance, Hale revealed that her first MGS gig voicing that important character paid only $1,200.

Previously, Hale avoided naming Metal Gear Solid directly in interviews, only saying in September that a “game made $176 million” and paid her an hourly wage that was “way less than [what] I wanted it to be.” But in this week’s episode of the My Perfect Console podcast, currently available in early access, Hale responded quickly to host and critic Simon Parkin’s question as to what that $176 million game was: It was Metal Gear Solid.

She agreed with Parkin that her original MGS pay, $1,200, is at a “grotesque disparity” with $176 million, saying “it’s indicative of what’s happening in modern culture. […] For every dollar that the workaday person makes—and [voice actors] are workaday people; all actors, on-camera, voice-over, who are not celebrities are workaday people—we make a dollar for every $399 [executives] make.”

Read More: Video Game Voice Actors Are Ready To Strike Over AI. Here’s Why
Buy Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

Still, “I love [Metal Gear],” Hale said. “It was such a crazy departure from anything I’d done before. I loved it because it was brilliant, and because it was just so unique. […] And it’s dark, and it’s mysterious, and it’s intense, and […] I loved everything about it.”

Currently, Hale is one of many video game voice actors prepared to strike over what they tell Kotaku is “an existential fight to make sure that they hang on to the rights to their own voices, their own images, because that is what they make their living with, as well as achieve wages that will keep up with inflation so that they can continue to be professionals in this space economically.”

During her podcast appearance, Hale reinforced this last point and said she wants voice actors to receive residuals for game work “on a flexible structure that honors the indie developers, that honors the budgets and capacities of teams. I would like to see that.”

SAG-AFTRA members authorized a video game strike with a 98 percent “yes” vote on September 25.

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