Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Please support Extra Credits

Hey guys, no sketches right now, i just wanted to talk about something important. If any of you guys have watched or are familiar with the web show "Extra Credits" on the Escapist, you'll know it's a great show about teaching people about the gaming world, the gaming business, and game design.  But sadly, they will no longer have a show on the Escapist. James Portnow on twitter(@ExtraCreditz) revealed there was an ugly argument with bated lawyers about payment.  I just wanted to repost most of what James has said on twitter(it's still going on as I write this, expect edits) so you guys know what's going on and don't have to back scroll through twitter to find out what's up.

From James: "Last thursday was our final episode on the escapist. Dan and I work on it for free and I pay Allison’s salary out of pocket each month, then, in turn, The Escapist was supposed to pay us- not much, but enough to cover Allison’s wages - unfortunately they were never able to. That meant when Allison hurt her arm I was out over $20,000...which is why we had to turn to all of you.

And that week really was one of the best of my life. Better than releasing games or speaking at GDC. Unfortunately, I had to ask the Escapist to send me some of our money then to help Allison (this was before I put up the Rockethub) when, after a lot of wrangling they sent us $1000, we asked them if we could trade them some of what they owed us for our IP back. Because the contract they had us sign made us give up all the rights to the show. We actually thought we were operating in good faith and getting the IP back so we could do things like make Tshirts would be easy. But they shot back informing us that they felt like they were entitled to 75% of the Rockethub money. And that, despite having paid us once over a year, we actually owed them $9500.

Yeah. This was probably one of the most disappointing moments for me in quite some time. I thought we were all playing for the same team. After that there was a lot of ugliness that I won't go into. The short of it is we told them we wanted to discuss our IP and they gave us a long run around saying they magically found money and wanted to make sure we got paid before we started to talk IP (which would have basically ensured that we didn't get our IP back). But the money never materialized and so we gave them notice two weeks ago and terminated our contract last Friday.

We're looking for other outlets at the moment, but we promise we'll keep doing the show on Youtube until we find one. I'll be on Thursday to post a link(But for legal reasons I haven't been able to talk about the show or the rockethub or anything for a while). And that's really the worst part. All of this takes away from actual good things we could be doing...

Of course this means that the rockethub rewards will have to change (no Escapist Club memberships) but we promise we'll find something. I just hope everyone else on the escapist is getting better treatment than we did...

We could use your help thursday to spread the word when we post the Youtube link. I don't want to let down people expecting an episode. (I've now spent more on lawyers than we were ever paid for the show...this isn't what I wanted at all) Also, there are still a lot of good people doing a lot of good work on the Escapist. I don't want to see this screw over any of them.

(also, it struck me as a funny last moment when the Yahtzee fundraiser came up for...$20,000...a day before they said money would appear) People are asking if this can be discussed. The die has already been cast; if there's any blowback from this it'll be from me talking. The Escapist is still claiming our IP and our back catalog of episodes as "work for hire", though we weren't paid ;_( I'm sorry all this energy can't be channeled into something more productive. On the plus side, I'll probably be on twitter more now ; ) Yup, all of that is potentially part of the IP as well as every episode ever created.

But it's going to be costly. It'd probably sink the Escapist (assuming they really don't have the money to pay us) and leave me broke. I'm just worried because I run a company & have lawyers, I'm working under the assumption that the other shows are getting better treatment. But if they're not I really don't know what some of those guys can do."

They want their audience to know though, they don't want anyone boycotting the Escapist, or taking away from other great shows on the site.

"In fact, I think that there are a lot of people still doing a lot of good work on the site. I don't think they should get any less views."

Alexander Macris, publisher of the Escapist, has released a long statement on their facebook account, which you can read here, stating that more or less, it was a miscommunication, they did everything in their power to make them happy, and that with the recession, they're strapped for cash themselves. Both Alexander and James have agreed that if they could meet and release all the emails it would clear the air.

EDIT: A number of people have pestered James into replying to Alexander, which he finally did on the Extra Credits facebook page. You can read it here. There seems to be a bit of backlash from people for him responding(well damned if you do, damned if you don't I guess), but James still wants to release all the emails so "the truth will come out".

But when asked if anyone else at the escapist wasn't getting paid, a number of people came forward:

James: "Anyone else have any dealings with the escapist where they weren't paid?"

@LaScaldaferri: I was scared to say anything but I realize it's morally worse not to. The Escapist hasn't been paying me either.

@DTPlaythroughs: I wrote for The Escapist for a couple months. They owe $890 and never respond to my emails. It sucks :( I'm on your side.

@Jimtopia: I'm was the animator for Creature Caster Masters, and it took The Escapist 6 months to pay me for the work I did.

@Chris_ToyTma We're still new, but thus can guess.

@urealms: Welcome to the club. Oh by the way. I "Mutally left" the escapist after about 6 months of none payments.Took another 14 to get paid everything else

Also, right after James started his explanation, the Escapist website was down for about an hour. Strange coincidence.

So that's all what's going on so far. I probably won't stop watching the Escapist, it would be wrong to punish other hard working creators for the publisher's mistakes, but I'll think twice about how I support them, and I DEFINITELY won't be trying out for any of their video or comic contests any more.

What you guys should take away from this, is that the Extra Credits group is a great bunch of gamer guys and gals, who would put you, the gaming populace, before any of their personal needs. They're smart, they're funny, and just generally good people. Please support them by following them on Twitter (@extracreditz), show some love on their facebook page, and subscribe to them on youtube.

Thanks guys! Sketches tomorrow, I promise!


  1. This is so sad. =( I guess everyone has cash flow issues, but that has to be communicated clearly to everyone involved otherwise you get these types of "miscommunications". I hope it works out for everyone.

  2. Me too man! Yeah, from what I read, it just sounds like a bad situation. I don't think the Escapist is some sort of evil corporation, but all the same I'm kinda glad now I didn't win their video contest last year, lol.