Archives September 2023

SAG-AFTRA members have voted over 98% in favor of authorizing video game strike

In a move that demonstrates how far the industry has shifted, SAG-AFTRA members have voted over 98% in favor of authorizing video game st. While the union has no obligation to call a strike, the vote allows its National Executive Board the option of doing so if it can’t reach a contract with the signatory companies of the Interactive Media Agreement (video game work). This would be in addition to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike that has impacted the film and TV industries since May 2, and marks the first time that actors and writers have simultaneously gone on strike in Hollywood history.

The main issues in this particular dispute center around wages that keep up with inflation, health care for on-camera performers and protections against unrestrained use of artificial intelligence in the production process. These concerns mirror those raised by the WGA in its broader contract fight with the AMPTP.

However, the specifics of SAG-AFTRA’s stance on these issues are what sets this strike apart from the WGA’s. Unlike the writers, SAG-AFTRA’s demands on video games focus more heavily on technology and less so on traditional issues like residuals. For example, the union is seeking more pay for its motion capture performers who perform on set to provide facial and body movements for digital characters in video games. The union is also seeking better medical coverage and breaks for these workers who have to spend long periods of time in suits with cameras pointed at their faces.

As of now, SAG-AFTRA has only offered its video game signatory companies “interim agreements” to address some of these concerns, which have been largely ignored by the companies in exchange for the perks that come with signing an interim agreement. The union claims that it will continue to negotiate in good faith with the signatory companies until it is able to reach a deal that it feels reflects the importance of video game work for its membership.

But this approach, which essentially spits in the face of its own membership’s will and desire to be treated in a way that is at least remotely fair, may backfire. Rather than bringing the negotiating parties closer together, it is likely to push them further apart, and could ultimately lead to a full-blown strike that will have even more of an impact on the entertainment industry and its ability to attract viewers and subscribers to streaming services.

In light of the tremendous support the actors’ and writers’ strikes have received, it is clear that if the AMPTP wants to avoid a lengthy strike—which could cost them billions in lost revenue—it is going to have to take more serious, creative risks. Hopefully, the next step in this historic struggle will involve building independent rank-and-file committees that can unite both actors and writers as well as other sections of the working class to stand with them in their fight against a system that is increasingly putting all forms of media out of reach for most people.

Starfield’s sun doesn’t shine on AMD graphics cards

Starfield is one of the most highly anticipated PC games of the year. Bethesda Softworks’ first new role-playing game IP since Fallout 3 promises a distinctly unique NASA-punk art style, massive star systems to explore, and a fully dynamic universe that varies depending on your GPU’s capability. Considering the game’s demanding CPU-bound nature, it’s no surprise that Bethesda has built in support for AMD’s DLSS and FSR spatial upscaling technology to keep frame rates high enough to enjoy the game’s full potential.

Unfortunately, that attention to detail has led to a bug in Starfield that renders the game’s sun completely invisible on AMD graphics cards. According to a popular Reddit post titled “Dear AMD Card User,” the game won’t render a star when you travel in-game to the dayside of any planetary body or moon without an atmosphere. This includes planets with a thin or full class M atmosphere as well as asteroid belts and moons in other solar systems. The problem only appears to impact users with AMD Radeon graphics cards, as Nvidia GeForce GPUs are not affected.

This is a bit of a shame, as the issue seems to be a simple fix for Bethesda and AMD. The aforementioned Reddit post shows a photo of the skybox from a moon without an atmosphere rendered with a Radeon RX 7900 XT, followed by a screenshot from that same spot taken with a Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti. The difference is striking.

Seeing as AMD has been the exclusive PC partner for the Starfield launch, this seems like a simple oversight on both parts. It’s not as if the game isn’t optimized for AMD hardware, as it runs a lot faster on the company’s chips versus Nvidia’s RTX series of cards. But, even if the developers only had time to focus on optimizing Starfield for Ryzen and Radeon GPUs, it shouldn’t have been that hard to ensure that the game properly renders all of its features, including those supported by AMD’s own FSR spatial upscaling technology.

It’s a bummer to see this issue in Starfield, especially as Bethesda’s other recent releases, from Remnant 2 to Cyberpunk 2077, support AMD FSR and DLSS with flying colors. With the release of a modded version of the game on the horizon, it’s probably not a bad idea for both AMD and Bethesda to come together and figure out how to resolve this missing star issue as soon as possible. Otherwise, the game may not be the immersive experience many players were hoping for. That’s a shame for everyone involved. Check out our review of the Radeon RX 6800 XT to find out why it’s a great choice for PC gamers on a budget. It offers a solid 1440p gaming performance that rivals a pricier Nvidia GTX 1070 for $100 less. And, if you do decide to pick up an RX 6800 XT or another AMD Radeon card, remember to get the best CPU for gaming as well.