Unity CEO apologizes for calling developers 'f**king idiots,' promises to do better

John Riccitiello
(Image credit: Bloomberg (Getty Images))

Unity CEO John Riccitiello did not make many new friends when he said last week that developers who don't consider monetization early in the process of making games are "fucking idiots." His point was relatively innocuous—if you want to make money, you better think about how you're going to do it so you don't accidentally annoy your players—but the wording was decidedly not great.

Reacting to the immediate (and entirely predictable) backlash, Riccitiello dismissed reports of his statement as "clickbait" and "out of full context," although he added that he was "deeply sorry if what I said offended any game dev." This didn't help very much: Several responses to his tweet noted that saying sorry if people were offended isn't really the same as being sorry for what was said. Perhaps with that in mind, Riccitiello posted a more robust apology over the weekend, saying that he is listening to criticism and "will do better."

"I have great respect for game developers," Riccitiello wrote. "The work they do is amazing. The creativity can be incredible whether on a triple-A 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.

"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."

Riccitiello said his point wasn't to emphasize a focus on grinding money, but "that there are better ways for game developers to get an early read on what players think of their game." For developers looking to make money on their work, that includes the monetization process, which I think it's a fair position to take: As Electronic Arts learned the hard way, clumsy monetization can spark nasty blowback, and consumers are more aware of, and sensitive to, aggressive monetization tactics than ever before.

The reaction to this apology seems a little more measured: The bulk of the criticism in reply tweets seems focused not on last week's interview, but on Unity's controversial merger with IronSource, which was announced just a couple weeks after Unity laid off hundreds of employees as part of an effort to "realign" resources.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.