Paige FTW: Familiar Faces

It used to be that established actors never appeared in animated films. Nowadays, that’s all there is — star-studded cast lists for such “illustrious” titles as The Secret Life of Pets and Spies in Disguise.

And now, that trend has started slowly encroaching on the video game genre.

Death Stranding is, of course, the poster child of this movement right now, but big-name actors have been offering their voices (and sometimes faces) for quite a while now. Gary Oldman has made quite a few appearances in Call of Duty, Sean Bean is the soothing narrator of Civilization V, Kristen Bell was in Assassin’s Creed … the list goes on.

I wonder what influence this has on the dedicated voice actors — big names like Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, etc. — that rarely appear in live-action properties and pretty much exclusively voice and do motion capture for games and other animated properties.

Certainly, there’s no shortage of roles, but I often wonder if games wouldn’t be better served by being a little more … discerning. The Destiny fiasco with Peter Dinklage and Nolan North comes to mind, of course. Sometimes, actors are less good at emoting with voice alone, and sometimes they aren’t. Dinklage is an amazing actor, but he just … didn’t pull it off as a voice alone, which is why they had to haul in someone more experienced to get it done.

Celebrity is an excellent way to get publicity. But — going back to Death Stranding — Lea Seydoux’s performance was stilted in comparison to Baker’s. She recited her lines neatly; he was grandiose and over the top, as was appropriate for Higgs.

Publicity is all well and good, but who buys a video game for the hopes of hearing a famous voice? I say let the genre experts handle it. It’s better for everyone in the long run.