Over at GamerGirlAdvance, bowler took his ball and went home when I pressed him for the actual numbers about voice acting and sales he mentioned. Apparently the fact that he didn't have them was somehow an insult to him in some weird Internet logic. Naturally, he tried to lay down the last word and suggested he was arguing something different:
Actually what he said was: "I hate to say it, but the industry has numbers that prove that voice actors don't drive sales". Which infers that voice actors don't effect the bottom line of a video game. In other words, that they aren't valuable. No one thing drives the sale of a video game. San Andreas didn't sell through roof just because it was notorious. Or that it evolved some pretty crafty gameplay. Or that they pushed their engine to the limit and put more gameworld than ever before. Or that it had some extremely talented acting and directing for the cinematic ... it sold well because of all of those things.
bowler also tried this one:
Which is actually inaccurate. Games license the franchise and then negotiate for the voice actors. Although it's somewhat true because more and more contracts do tie actors to other forms of media on their roles, including video games. But this is a more recent development ... because voice acting very much drives sales for these titles. Fans of a show/movie/whatever want to know that they'll hear a familiar voice to go with those polygonal versions of the character in question.
Somewhere in the middle, bowler tried to pass a list of games that he feels prove his point, as they didn't sell a single unit based on voice acting. Which I guess if you want to define it as voice acting alone might be accurate, but my point is they sure didn't sell on gameplay alone either. Some of his choices are pretty interesting. For instance, Grand Theft Auto III, which is one of the earlier examples of utilizing a wide cast of Hollywood talent in a game. That title alone includes Joe Pantoliano, Michael Madsen, Michael Rapaport, Debi Mazar, Kyle MacLachlan, and Robert Loggia. Did Rockstar spend money on these actors because they just like to smell dollars burn? If they didn't think that hiring these guys would help drive sales then why spend all that money?
A handful of other odd choices include God of War, some Mario games and Halo. Personally, I am finding Kratos' scratchy voice central to the game. Kratos is voiced by T.C. Carson, who has a long history of voice acting and is quite talented. On a side note, God of War is narrated by Linda Hunt, who among other things has won an Oscar.
And then there's Halo and Mario Sunshine. Both of these titles feature Jen Taylor, a voice actress talented enough to handle both Princess Peach and Cortana. In some ways, actually, Jen's work as Cortana probably makes her the most recognizable female voice in gaming today.
And whether bowler likes it or not, those kinds of things do help sell a game.