Shroud of secrecy unlike open film and TV culture, composers claim

Is the game industry’s obsession with NDAs stifling creativity in music?

Leading music experts have questioned the game industry’s obsession with NDAs and the secrecy surrounding projects, debating its effect on creativity.

Speaking at Game Music Connect, Cool Music CEO Darrell Alexander said the game sector is unlike TV and film, in which it’s easy to find out what companies are working on.

This means that as an agent, he said, he can constantly put musicians in the eye of these industries and studios operating in them.

He later added that movie and TV companies would often also ask to talk to particular composers they felt were right for the project, while also asking for someone more left of field for the project. It’s a situation rarely seen in more closed game companies.

Transformers Universe composer James Hannigan said though many individuals are aware of the issue, they don’t have the sway to make sweeping changes to the way studios, and the overall industry, operate at present.

He explained that while NDAs may not particularly be an issue for in-house audio experts, it causes a problem for freelancers, and it’s an issue that perhaps stems from the studio model.

"Everything in games is shrouded in secrecy," he said.

"You can be working on seomthing for two years and be completely unable to talk about."

EA Music Group worldwide exec Steve Schnur described the situation of NDAs as "very fear-based".

"Everybody is so fearful of it that," he said. "I think it sets a terrible tone."

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