Niko, Cry Me a River

by Steve Bowler on May 22, 2008 · 9 comments

in business

At first I was full of righteous indignation about Michael Hollick’s story in the NY Times the other day about his “less than stellar pay.” I mean, come on, you poor baby, you didn’t get royalties? Get in line, dude. You got a hundred thousand dollars for part time work over 15 months. I’d love to make that kind of coin.

But then I realized, waitaminute, he’s got a point. He does deserve royalties. We all do. Every last one of us who works on a videogame does. Nevermind that I’ve worked in the industry for ten years and have only received one royalty check to date. If the game makes money, good business practices state that sharing a bit of that with the folks who helped you make that money will ensure they stick around and help you make s’more.

But then I read still further into the article, and realized he got paid a “day rate” for acting. The day rate isn’t any kind of a normal, hourly rate. Nor is it comparable to any payrate you or I would expect to see for an honest 8 hours worth of work. Hell, sometimes you don’t even have to be there all 8 hours to earn it. It’s also trumped up to ludicrous scale levels, in order to cover the actor’s personal medical costs, travel costs, agency costs, etc. And it wasn’t just the Actor’s Guild’s normal $730/day day-rate. Oh no, Rockstar went even further and offered up $1,050/day.

Extrapolating that number out, Mr. Hollick was payed $1,050 for enough time for him to make roughly $100,000. That means if he worked full time (and this is normal “9-to-5″ full time, not game industry “10-to-ass’o’clock” full time) 5 days/week, he would have only had to work for just a day or two over three months to make that money, with weekends off. If he worked “full time” for the duration of those 15 months, he would have been paid around $472,500. Let that number sink in for a minute.

So let’s recap: The NY Times, Kotaku, etc., think Mr. Hollick here should get more money. He made roughly six times the amount of money as an average video-game employee made in 2007, and he and probably half of games journalism thinks he deserves even more?

Excuse me, but screw you, Mr. Hollick, NY Times, et all. If anyone deserves more money, it’s the people who busted their asses and strained their personal relationships for years to make that game. I guarantee you every guy on that game team wishes they made the money Hollick made. I doubt even the team lead makes that kind of bank. That’s VP/Executive/CEO salary levels Hollick was making.

Good lord, man, cry me a river.