As reported by Bloomberg, it’s been revealed that CD Projekt used AI to replicate the voice of the late Miłogost Reczek, who voiced Night City’s most reliable ripper doc, Viktor Vektor, in the base game’s Polish localisation back in 2020.
Reczek built an extensive portfolio during his career, dubbing both games and movies in roles like the Speaker from Destiny 2, Carl Manfred from Detroit: Become Human, and Vesemir from The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt. He died December 2021, aged 60.
CD Projekt’s localisation director Mikołaj Szwed says they had considered hiring a new actor to retroactively dub over Reczek’s work from the base game: “We didn’t like [that] approach … This way we could keep his performance in the game and pay tribute to his wonderful performance as Viktor Vektor.”
The studio obtained the blessing of Rezeck’s family, who Szwed describes as “very supportive” of the decision, to use a voice-cloning AI named Respeecher—meaning CD Projekt likely hired a voice actor to record the character’s new lines in Phantom Liberty, then altered it to match Rezeck’s original performance.
The news comes among the backdrop of serious concerns about AI’s role in the voice acting industry. Just earlier this month, SAG-AFTRA—a union covering a broad variety of acting and presentation professions, including voice actors—achieved a 98.2% yes vote to authorise a strike, should negotiations fall short.
“Throughout the negotiations, the companies have refused to offer acceptable terms … including wages that keep up with inflation, protections around exploitative uses of artificial intelligence, and basic safety precautions.” The strike’s not officially on just yet, as the next round of negotiations fall at the end of September, but it’s still been a major concern.
Still, from where I’m sitting, this use case seems pretty cut and dry from an ethical perspective. There was full consent from the family, the studio hired and paid a voice actor for the work, and it did so to preserve Reczek’s original performance—not exactly a cynical attempt to cut corners or muscle talent out of the recording booth.