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UK Agreement Guarantees Voice Actors Minimum Fees, Protections

OMUK, one half of the agreement, has worked on games including Horizon Zero Dawn.
OMUK, one half of the agreement, has worked on games including Horizon Zero Dawn. / Photo courtesy of Sony

A leading voice acting studio in the UK has reached an agreement with a trade union representing performing arts and entertainment works to protect voice actors.

Voice acting studio OMUK, which has worked on games including Horizon Zero Dawn and Demon's Souls, entered the agreement with trade union Equity. The deal runs until 2023 and is the first of its kind in the UK, guaranteeing performers minimum fees and setting conditions of engagement. It aims to serve as a blueprint for other studios to follow suit, raising the standard of work across the UK games industry.

Voice actors will be provided specific information ahead of or at the time of the the audition or offer. That means sensitive content, such as parts related to sex, racism, or violence, will be flagged ahead of time. So too will profanity, required accents, publishers and developers involved, budget information, and recording session timing.

They'll also be warned of potential vocal stress situations, and provided a minimum of five-minute rest times per hour of work.

Games will be sorted into three categories of budget size, with minimum fees set according to the category. Standard projects, with budgets over £5 million, will pay £300 per hour. Indie games with budgets between £0.5 million and £5 million will pay £200 per hour. Budgets under that threshold will be labeled as micro games, which will pay £175 per hour.

The agreement also addresses overtime, late fees fr overdue payments, and a place in the credits for the performers.

"This agreement is significant for all those working within and for the games industry," said OMUK voice director and managing director Mark Estdale. "Like the the TV, Stage and Film agreements it gives clarity regarding pay and best practice. Without taking this step, the games industry would remain the 'Wild West' of media even though it's now probably the biggest employer of talent."

The agreement is the latest instance of worker organizing improving working conditions in the video games industry.

"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," said Laurence Bouvard, a voice actor and the chair of Equity's Screen & New Media Committee.

"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."