Famous actors and celebrities in games isn't exactly a new phenomenon. Arnold Schwarzenegger voiced his arcade counterpart in Terminator 2 arcade game while Bruce Willis provided his voice for The Fifth Element game and the Apocalypse game. There are plenty more examples, but the phenomenon has received more notice now for their use as marketing a game.
Fame And Video Games
In recent years, actors and celebrities lending their talents to games, which has been, at times, front and center. Games like Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, Detroit: Become Human, and Death Stranding all feature top-notch actors. Frankly, the actors are huge draws. This especially the case with the upcoming Death Stranding, which will feature a variety of well-known actors and will, as such, help sell the game to those unfamiliar or unacquainted with Hideo Kojima's other works.
Frankly, the use of these actors doesn't seem incredibly practical. Rather, while they may be talented, the actors seem like just a huge selling point. At the time of its release, Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare was set to feature a major, well-known actor as its villain, which seemed to purely serve its sales figures. Otherwise, the Call of Duty series had been growing stale by Advanced Warfare's release and may have suffered a small decrease in sales.
Games Need To Try Harder
To take a medium that doesn't fall into this trap, films don't seem to be prey to this issue. Some of the best movies have so-called "nobodies." The original Star Wars trilogy wasn't exactly full of well-known actors, for instance. Harrison Ford, who played Han Solo, may have been in a few movies by that point, but Ford was not a triple-A actor by any means. The point is these movies can fall flat due to poor performances from actors, more easily than games, but they tend to avoid the trope of using nothing but triple-A actors as their selling point.
Games have, and can, to try a little bit harder than showing their appeal through the appearance of a famous actor. Truth be told, Death Stranding seems to be a fascinating game regardless of the actors, but they will undoubtedly help sell copies of the game to fans of The Walking Dead and Hannibal. Cyberpunk 2077 is being developed by the ever-respected CD Projekt RED and is expected to be a deep game with rewarding mechanics. However, Keanu Reeves' appearance in the game will undoubtedly help the game sell to non-Witcher fans.
Straight-up voice actors, unfortunately, don't get nearly the same level of recognition, nor compensation, that these actors do. It is not an unlikely scenario for a famous actor who gets a bit roll in a game to be paid an equal amount or more than the main character's lesser-known voice actor. This is totally unfair because the unknown voice actors in question are generally the backbone of the game.
It's Fine To Have Famous People
To provide clarity, having famous actors in a game is completely fine. However, if they are being used as the centerpiece of the game, then perhaps the developers need to re-evaluate their priorities. Having even a recognizable actor like, say, Aidan Gillen in Quantum Break simply takes away due to the shallow nature of using them as compelling accessories that draw people to the game for them.
This behavior needs to stop. Not every game does this, and gamers can be thankful for that, but games that do need to re-evaluate their plots and see if they hold up with none of these drawing, famous actors. You don't get to be a masterpiece for having Hollywood's current biggest name in your game, and hopefully, that's a lesson that can be learned going forward.