Why keep video game voice actors a secret?

I always find it funny when I watch a trailer for an upcoming video game, recognise a voice and yet the voice actor is not allowed to reveal that they are indeed that character. It makes me wonder: why keep video game voice actors a secret?

Video games are actually quite similar to television shows and movies in so many ways these days. Yet in TV shows and movies, actors cast are often revealed early, sometimes before you even know who their character is. Animated feature films announce their (often celebrity) talent early on and usually once a character is revealed, their voice is too.

It's true that because you're less likely to recognise someone by just their voice it's much easier to keep the voice actors behind a project secret. But surely, ahead of a video game's release, merely knowing who a character is played by isn't going to do any harm? It doesn't in TV and movies.

So what if revealing the voice could give away a plot twist? I can picture a scenario for example where the villain from a game shares a voice actor with a new character in the sequel… where that new character ultimately turns out to be the original villain.

The thing is, you are always going to be recognised by someone. People have good ears, people are clever and people work this kind of stuff out. Even in times when revealing an actor shouldn't reveal anything about the character, people still work it out, such as about Benedict Cumberbatch in Star Trek Into Darkness or Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises before their releases.

If the character being in the game is being kept a secret, obviously you will want to keep the actor behind that character secret too. But if you really don't want people snooping into who a character really is before a project is released, then don't show off the character before the release!

Once a voice actor is revealed to the public, they naturally could start getting a lot of questions about plot points and story secrets. But again, this is no different than a movie or TV show either. Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are still signed and still respected. We know that Mark Hamill is in Star Wars: Episode VIII - The Last Jedi but it's not like he's on Twitter spoiling the story before its release.

So if knowing who a character's voice is doesn't ruin anything and if the voice actor keeps everything else secret, then I think it's probably okay to let people know who the voices are. In fact, I think it would be a good thing!

Firstly, in this day and age, many voice actors have quite a good social media presence and a lot also attend conventions as guests. By being allowed to talk about a project, it's extra publicity and free advertising. You can get people excited about a game much earlier instead of on the release day or a few days before. Having extra announcements about a game's features is always a good thing. Plus, it's not totally crazy for someone to buy a game in part due to its cast of voice actors. I know I have.

I also think an earlier reveal would be really nice for the voice actors. To be able to revel in all that pre-release buzz publicly would be a wonderful thing. To sit there and watch people get excited about hearing you… but not be able to actually say it is you to anyone, is frustrating.

I'm not saying release full cast lists with all secret identities included on day one of recording. But I do think once a character is revealed and once their voice is heard, announce their voice actor too or at least let the voice actors do it themselves. It would be awesome!