A year after using the collaborative website HitRecord to produce assets for Beyond Good and Evil 2, Ubisoft is using it again. This time, they’re looking to use HitRecord for Watch Dogs: Legion music to add some new tracks to the upcoming third-person open-world title.
In their video above (which is posted unlisted on HitRecord’s YouTube channel) Watch Dogs: Legion creative director Clint Hocking, audio director Richie Nieto, and HitRecord founder and director Gordon-Levitt talk about the partnership and how it’ll work. Ubisoft has posted a project page for Watch Dogs: Legion on HitRecord with bounties for ten different kinds of songs, such as “Aggressive Grim Punk Song.” From there, any HitRecord user can contribute to the project in any way they can. Like with any HitRecord project, users can add on or edit each other’s work. Eventually, HitRecord chooses what work it wants to use and pays the chosen users based on their contributions. For this project, each song pays $2,000 split between the contributing artists. How the money is split is shown on HitRecord for all to see. Those who aren’t chosen get no payment.
More concerns over speculative work
Despite the partnership announcement being more upfront about how the process works, some are concerned that the process might be exploitative. Like with the Beyond Good and Evil 2 project, people are concerned that this might be a case of speculative work. Spec work, as described by the American Institute of Graphic Arts, is “work done for free in the hopes of getting paid for it” or “work done in the hope of winning a prize, in whatever form that might take.” They do concede that unpaid work can take a variety of forms and is a decision between an employer and a worker who must be aware of the risks.
Ubisoft’s partnership video that in “every creative endeavor” that there’s always something left on the cutting room floor. However, salaried employees still get paid and benefits for working on anything that doesn’t get used. Among the more notable names criticizing Ubisoft’s actions are Thomas Was Alone creator Mike Bithell, Night in the Woods co-creator Scott Benson, and Vlambeer co-creator Rami Ismali.