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Platinum steps in to try to calm Bayonetta voice acting debate

‘We give our full support to Jennifer Hale as the new Bayonetta’

Bayonetta contemplates an orb in a screenshot from Bayonetta 3 Image: PlatinumGames/Nintendo
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Bayonetta developer PlatinumGames has issued its first public statement on the voice acting controversy that has engulfed Bayonetta 3 ahead of its release next week, on Oct. 28.

As fans have reacted with vitriol — first to original Bayonetta actor Hellena Taylor’s claims that she was offered just $4,000 to reprise her role, then to reporting that suggested she was offered much more — Platinum has pleaded for calm and given Taylor’s replacement Jennifer Hale its full backing.

“We at PlatinumGames offer our sincerest appreciation to everyone who has contributed to creating the Bayonetta series over the years, as well as the community that has served as its foundation,” the developer tweeted.

“We give our full support to Jennifer Hale as the new Bayonetta, and align with everything in her statement.

“We ask people to please refrain from any further comments that would disrespect Jennifer or any of the other contributors to the series.”

Hale’s statement, which she made earlier in the week, said she was under NDA and could not speak freely about the situation, but that she supports “every actor’s right to be paid well.”

“I sincerely ask that everyone keep in mind that this game has been created by an entire team of hard-working, dedicated people and I hope everyone will keep an open mind about what they’ve created,” Hale said, in response to Taylor urging her supporters to boycott the game.

“Finally, I hope that everyone involved may resolve their differences in an amicable and respectful way.”

Both Hale and Taylor have been subjected to significant online abuse since the row began, alongside developers at Platinum.

A few days after Taylor called for the boycott, calling Platinum’s pay offer “an insult,” Bloomberg said it had seen documentation proving Taylor had been offered between $3,000 and $4,000 per recording session over five sessions — at least $15,000 in total. Bloomberg said sources familiar with the negotiations claimed Taylor had turned this down and made a counter-offer of a six-figure sum, plus residuals. Taylor strongly denies this.

Whatever the validity of Taylor’s claims, her appeal for better pay and more equitable treatment for voice actors — a cause she shares with Hale — is a justified one. Unfortunately, this issue risks being overshadowed by a tit-for-tat war of words between Taylor and Platinum, amplified by their online fans, and obfuscated by misinformation (such as Taylor’s claim that the Bayonetta series has brought in $450 million in revenue, which, given the games’ relatively low sales, seems fanciful). Platinum is right to appeal for calm, but the appeal may come too late to save this important debate from a descent into toxicity.