HitRECord founder Joseph Gordon-Levitt posted a blog earlier today expressing his thoughts over collaborative work versus spec work following the announcement HitRECord is partnering with Ubisoft to crowdsource assets for Beyond Good and Evil 2.
Following the news which was announced during Ubisoft's E3 conference, many developers quickly voiced their concerns over the collaboration, citing that it encouraged spec work (when labor is done for free in hopes of getting paid later) from individuals for the chance to have their work be featured in the game.
"I wanna explain why I think what we’re doing with Ubisoft is different from spec work," the post reads. "HITRECORD pays artists. Some people seem to think we don’t. We do. Since we launched as a production company in 2010, we’ve paid our community $2,776,728.50."
The post goes on to explain that the company doesn't solicit complete work from individuals, saying that people on their platform work together by contributing bits and pieces to a project. Contributors will also retain the rights to their work as well, even if it's not used.
Gordon-Levitt stresses that the partnership between his company and Ubisoft isn't a result of cutting corners to save time and money, but to allow fans who love playing games to get involved in making the game.
"We don’t plagiarize unused submissions; anybody whose work is included or even influences the final product gets credit and compensation," he writes. "We’re not a marketplace for freelance gigs; we’re a collaborative community."
A hitRECord contributor who spoke to Gamasutra explained that HitRECord pays by how big the contribution use is in the grand scheme of the project itself, implying that if a developer created an asset that was used quite often throughout the game, they would likely be compensated more.
Gordon-Levitt echoes the statement above, writing that "some people make hundreds, some people make thousands, a few people have made tens of thousands. Oftentimes a finished product will include a large number of tiny contributions, and those contributors can receive tiny paychecks."
However it seems that because there's no guarantee that a developer's work will show up (and in turn, that they will be compensated for that work), it currently isn't clear how HitRECord will choose what assets will get to go into Beyond Good and Evil 2.