Unity CEO John Riccitiello stirred a bees' hive when he called developers who don't want to take monetization into account early in the design process the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people - but also some of the biggest f*cking idiots.
Unity was already suffering significant backlash for its freshly announced $4.4 billion merger with IronSource due to the latter company being known for distributing malware. Needless to say, Riccitiello's statement inflamed matters even further, and his first reaction after the interview was published was to call the article clickbait. Over the weekend, though, the Unity CEO delivered a proper apology that you can read in its entirety below.
I want to talk about both what I said in the interview and my follow-up tweet. I'm going to start with an apology. My word choice was crude. I am sorry. I am listening and I will do better.
What I can do, perhaps, is provide more on what I was thinking when I did the interview. What I would have said if I had taken greater care.
First -- I have great respect for game developers. The work they do is amazing. The creativity can be incredible whether on a AAA console, mobile or indie game, designed to be played by millions. Or a creative project, a game made just for the sheer joy of it.
Second -- one thing I have seen is that most game devs work incredibly hard and want people to play their game. To enjoy it. And when appropriate for players to engage deeply. For the game devs I have worked most closely with, there is often anxiety about whether players will love the game and appreciate all the work and love that went into making it.
Third -- Sometimes all a game developer wants is to have a handful of friends enjoy the game. Art for art's sake and art for friends. Others want players $ to buy the game or game items so they can make a living. Both of these motivations are noble.
Fourth -- What I was trying to say, and clearly failed at saying, is that there are better ways for game developers to get an early read on what players think of their game. To learn from their feedback. And, if the developer wants, to adjust the game based on this feedback. It's a choice to listen and act or just to listen. Again, both are very valid choices.
If I had been smarter in choosing my words, I would have said just this... we are working to provide developers with tools so they can better understand what their players think, and it is up to them to act or not, based on this feedback.
Anyway, that's it. Lots of words. And a sentence that I wish I had never said.
Will this apology be enough to convince game developers not to switch from Unity to Unreal Engine? Only time will tell, but Epic executives are surely grinning from ear to ear.