Joseph Gordon-Levitt defends HitRecord’s collaboration with Ubisoft, says it’s “untenable” to pay all contributors

By Shabana Arif, Friday, 15 June 2018 16:59 GMT

Beyond Good & Evil 2’s collaboration with Joseph Gordon Levitt’s HitRecord has come under scrutiny for taking advantage of freelancers.

During Ubisoft’s E3 2018 conference, Beyond Good & Evil 2 got a new cinematic trailer, which was expected, but in a decidedly unexpected move, the community was invited to be a part of the game’s development process by taking part in the collaboration between Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s creative platform, HitRecord, and the publisher.

Unfortunately for both parties, the opportunity for artists, writers, and musicians to submit their work for the chance of having it included in the game hasn’t been as well received as they’d perhaps hoped.

The fist bone of contention was somewhat of a misunderstanding, as it wasn’t made clear that people would get paid for any work used in the game. They definitely will, but that has only lead to further criticisms.

The biggest issue that has popped up on social media it the notion that creators will essentially be creating spec work for free. The second is that the budget for approved work is limited to just $50,000, to be split across everyone whose work is used in the game.

Gordon-Levitt has responded to critics in a Medium post, defending the project.

After confirming that people whose work is used in the game will indeed get paid, he continues, “some folks have raised concerns that HITRECORD and Ubisoft are asking people to do spec work.

“If you haven’t heard the term before, ‘spec’ stands for speculative, and spec work is when professionals work for free in hopes of getting paid later. In this digital age of crowd-sourcing, there’s been a wave of corner-cutting by way of spec work, and freelancers have often been left feeling exploited.”

Gordon-Levitt says that this isn’t how he thinks of HitRecord’s creative process, adding that “part of this disconnect is simple misinformation.”

He goes on to state that since the company’s founding, HitRecord has paid the community over $2.7 million. He clarifies that it does not solicit “complete works” and that “Finished projects are usually touched by a great many collaborators. We don’t think of it as a contest.”

He explains that contributors retain rights to their work, and the Ubisoft’s decision to collaborate with the company isn’t “to save time and money,” but to “allow fans who love playing games to get involved in making the game.”

In response to the suggestion across various social media platforms that contributors should get paid regardless of whether their work is included in the final game, Gordon-Levitt says, “I appreciate the sentiment here, but this idea would be untenable.

“As soon as we announced any funded project, innumerable opportunists would contribute useless place filler and be owed compensation. We have to draw a line somewhere, and it shouldn’t be arbitrary. If a project generates revenue, the people who get paid should be the people whose work is included or has influenced the final production.”

He did say that the conversation generated by all of this has lead to HitRecord “formalizing” a system that the company was already “informally” moving in the direction of, by “empowering certain stand-out community members to lead projects.”

When these project leads are identified, a fee will be agreed upon “before their leadership role commences.”

The subject of the limit of $50,000 to be split between all contributors whose work is approved for the game wasn’t addressed.

If you want a slice of the pie and think you can make something worthy enough to be included in the sequel to one of the best games on the face of this green Earth, head over to HitRecord and get going.

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