Saturday, July 13, 2019

Watch Dogs: Legion and HitRecord Collaboration Creates Controversy

A partnership with HitRecord to create original music for Watch Dogs: Legion sparks controversy for Ubisoft.

After an initial leak from Amazon product listing, developer/publisher Ubisoft eventually revealed their upcoming open-world hacking adventure game Watch Dogs: Legion before having premiering it at E3 2019 event last month.

Currently, it is due for a March 6, 2020 release on Google Stadia, PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. However, publishers are already on hot water after announcing partnership with production company HitRecord to produce music for Legion.

watch dogs legion hitrecord ubisoft wage no spec controversy
Watch Dogs: Legion and HitRecord Collaboration Creates Controversy

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HitRecord is an online platform owned by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Don Jon, Looper), where its users generate unique ideas for different media and through collaboration, everyone is allowed to take part and improve those as well.

On their recent endeavor with Ubisoft, 10 original songs for upcoming open-world hacktivism adventure are being requested from fan community and they will be will be paying $20,000 for each new song that makes it to final game.

RELATED: Watch Dogs: Legion Confirmed

In a recent video, Joe Gordon-Levitt has ‏announced this news to members of the site so that they can all participate.




RELATED: Watch Dogs: Legion E3 2019 Reveal

Almost immediately, an old debate regarding companies soliciting work from fans for big budget games is resurfaced. This however, is not Ubisoft's first rodeo to work with HitRecord and generate controversy for their approach.

They announced working with Levitt's company to get art and music from fans for Beyond Good & Evil 2 at E3 2018 presentation. Both of these companies saw this as a rare opportunity to take part in development but professionals calls it speculative work.

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One of their requirement lists for a "Battle Anthem Metal Song", which would be focused around themes like 'Anticipation', 'Determination', 'Marching to battle', 'Power' and 'Violence' as mentioned in its project overview.

WDL lets you play as almost anyone from a vast open-world setting to create your resistance against an authoritative regime and creative director, Cling Hocking came up with an idea to work with fans from over the globe to create its music.

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Although all proceedings are going to be distributed by HitRecord to people who contributed in this creative process, people are viewing it as replacing talents to work on their projects and trying to get spec work from a volunteer crowd.

Whether or not HitRecord creators see this collab as exploitation, industry professionals are strongly against their business model of going after non-exclusive license content rather than hiring someone on consistent payment.

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During their first attempt last year, people started trending a #nospec hashtag on Twitter to protest this idea. Renowned industry figures like Mike Bithell, Rami Ismail and Scott Benson has voiced their displeasure over this partnership.

Regardless of how bad majority of a pissed off crowd is trying to paint this partnership as bad, some small time indie creators are still getting benefitted when their work is selected and though it comes rather cheap, the money helps.

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They suggested that the publisher may hire artists to commission new songs or license existing tracks for their game. It can also lead to hours of work that doesn't end up being successful submissions and have no use for many creators in the end.

Besides, $2,000 is relatively a very small amount considering how much time needs to put in to a licensed song for AAA-title and it ultimately gets split between everyone who had a contribution that made it to a winning submission.

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Ubisoft has addressed the criticism by stating that they are currently working with artists and composers on over 140 licensed songs and an original score for Legion and contribution from HitRecord community is completely voluntary.

Watch Dogs: Legion will be set a near future version of London where society is now under constant surveillance and ruled by a corrupt private military. In a post-Brexit era, secret hactivist group DedSec returns once again to thwart them over.