Agreement will protect and set terms for voice artists
OMUK has produced recordings for titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn, Game of Thrones and Second Extinction.
The first of its kind in the UK, the agreement sets out the minimum fees and conditions of engagement for voice artists working on video games. The measures have been put in place to address issues Equity members tell us they can encounter when working as voice artists on video games. These include inconsistences of pay, vocal damage when recording battle scenes, and not being given warning of content that may be of a sensitive nature, such as sex scenes.
It is a laudable commitment from OMUK to best practice and to ensuring good relations between employers and artists. We hope that other studios will follow suit and sign up to mutually beneficial agreements of their own.
The agreement, which runs until April 2023, includes commitments to provide information to voice artists prior to, or at the time of, the audition or offer:
- Content of a religious, sexual, racially sensitive, gender sensitive, or potentially violent nature.
- Profanity or offensive language.
- If a role requires vocal stress. A minimum of five-minute rest times per hour are mandated, to help protect the artists' voice, and there will also be best practice employed to keep to a maximum of two hours of vocal stress per day.
- Any accent(s) that might be required.
- The working title of the game, the publisher/developer, budget classification (see below), hours of engagement, and recording dates.
- The studio will endeavour to ensure the voice artist will be given credit on screen.
On fees and payments, the following has been agreed:
- Minimum fees are set according to the budget of the production, with a minimum of £300 per hour paid to voice artists when recording for a 'Standard' game (budget of over £5m), £200 per hour for an 'Indie' game (£0.5m to £5m), and £175 per hour for a 'Micro' game (under £0.5m).
- In addition, the first hour on any game will be paid at twice the hourly rate. For a standard game this would be £600, for an indie it would be £400, and for a micro £350.
- Overtime to be paid at 30 minute pro rata increments.
- The studio will pay the artist within 30 days from receipt of invoice. If the fee is late, the studio will pay a penalty payment of £10 per day.
- Integration rights are the inclusion of material in one or more interactive programs for which the artist has not been specifically employed to render services. The studio can purchase integration rights and the artist will receive a payment of one two-hour session.
- Rates within the agreement will be re-examined 2 years form the date of the signing of the agreement and any increase in the minimum fees will be measured by inflation.
- Within 6 months of the signing of the agreement the parties will endeavour to create a clause, which expressly deals with the recording of promotional material not contained within the game itself with accompanying compensation paid to the artist.
Tim Gale, Recorded Media Organiser at Equity, said:
"We are very pleased to have agreed for the first time in the UK a simple agreement for the engagement of our members in voice work for video games. Despite the games industry having become one of the largest parts of the entertainment sector, it did not have a standard contract for the engagement of artists until Equity and OMUK agreed this ground-breaking contract.
"With the considerable help of Equity members working in the sector, Equity and OMUK have provided the games industry with an agreement that offers clarity and simplicity in contracting, which will be a great asset to the industry as a whole."
Laurence Bouvard, voice artist and Chair of Equity's Screen & New Media Committee, said:
"We are delighted to share with our colleagues in the games industry the news that the long-awaited Equity UK Agreement for Voice Artists in Videogames is now official, with its first signatory Mark Estdale of OMUK, a leading studio in games audio. This ground-breaking agreement, drawn up as the result of months of consultations with UK-based actors, agents, and studios alike, reflects best practice and a mutual desire to achieve excellence in a safe and supportive working environment.
"This document has long been urgently needed to navigate the opportunities provided to performers in the rapidly expanding games industry, and we are grateful to everyone who has worked hard with us to make it happen. We have no doubt that other studios will soon follow Mark's lead in signing up to this agreement, helping to further raise the profile of the already thriving UK games industry on the global stage."