Musicians who have contributed to Watch Dogs Legion have not yet been paid for their work almost a year after its production.
The game, which released today, uses music collaboratively created via actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Hitrecord platform. Projects on the platform are managed by the staff at Hitrecord, who organize contributions from musicians in the community to create a final piece to send to Ubisoft for inclusion in the game. If the name sounds familiar to you, it’s because that Ubisoft and Hitrecord have already collaborated, and that the platform was an important part of an E3 presentation for Beyond good and evil 2.
In Watch Dogs Legion, a number of tracks produced on Hitrecord feature prominently on in-game radio stations, while others appear as incidental music. Songs like ‘I Am Your Virus’,’ Riot, ‘Rise for War’, ‘Unite and Conquer’, ‘Got You Running’, ‘Sound Off’ and ‘Fight For Freedom’ were all created by users of Hitrecord, but their game credits on the HUD (seen when the radio station is changed) simply appear as “HITRECORD,” with no mention of the artists who actually made the music. To find the names of contributors, you need to look at the incredibly long full list of credits, which even with the fastest scrolling speed takes over 15 minutes to show musicians.
More worryingly, Hitrecord has yet to pay any of the artists who worked on songs for Watch Dogs Legion. While there were 10 different tracks completed by the end of 2019, the game’s main project page states that the current total paid to collaborators is zero dollars.
Ubisoft is a massive publisher who managed to get the license to use big musicians like Stormzy, The Chemical Brothers, Gorillaz and Fatboy Slim in the game. The fact that small independent musicians trying to gain a foothold in the industry don’t not being paid for the work they produced over a year ago is abhorrent.
Following the E3 presentation on Hitrecord’s involvement in Beyond good and evil 2, many people have argued that the service is little more than a speculative line of work, where people take their time and resources for the potential of may be get paid for it if chosen for the final version. Speculative work is the bane of many freelancers, who feel that their work should be paid for whether or not it was used in the client’s end product.
Watch Dogs Legion’s Sound director Richie Nieto, spokespersons for Ubisoft, Hitrecord and the musicians involved in the tracks have all been contacted for comment. None responded, but this article will be updated as more information becomes available.