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Unity CEO: Devs who push back against monetisation can be “brilliant” but also “fucking idiots”

John Riccitiello also says more than half the staff affected by recent layoffs have been rehired elsewhere in the company

John Riccitiello, CEO of game engine and service provider Unity, has said developers that shun monetisation practises or leave them to later in the development cycle are "fucking idiots."

The exec spoke to PocketGamer.biz in the wake of Wednesday's news that monetisation tools provider IronSource is merging with Unity during the fourth quarter of this year.

When asked about the pushback from developers against working out how to get users spending early in the development process, Riccitiello said: "It's a very small portion of the gaming industry that works that way, and some of these people are my favourite people in the world to fight with -- they're the most beautiful and pure, brilliant people. They're also some of the biggest fucking idiots.

"I've been in the gaming industry longer than most [people] -- getting to the grey hair and all that. It used to be the case that developers would throw their game over the wall to the publicist and sales force with literally no interaction beforehand. That model is baked into the philosophy of a lot of artforms and medium, and it's one I am deeply respectful of; I know their dedication and care.

"But this industry divides people between those who still hold to that philosophy and those who massively embrace how to figure out what makes a successful product. And I don't know a successful artist anywhere that doesn't care about what their player thinks. This is where this cycle of feedback comes back, and they can choose to ignore it. But to choose to not know it at all is not a great call."

He added that he's seen great games fail because their compulsion loop should have been tuned to an hour, rather than two minutes. The difference between a smash hit and a failure can be this tuning around monetisation and attrition.

"There isn't a developer on the planet that wouldn't want that knowledge," he said.

Elsewhere in the interview, Riccitiello was asked about the recent layoffs, with hundreds of employees let go across Unity's various international offices.

"Just for clarity's sake, we didn't announce anything," he said. "That was a leak to Kotaku, and while we said we were eliminating 4% of our positions, over half of them got rehired within other parts of Unity, so as far as quote-unquote layoff stories go, we're not much of one."

Riccitiello later predicted that the gaming would "double as an industry in the course of the next five, maybe seven years," emphasising that mobile is the biggest part of the business. "And when you're in mobile, you're driven by in-game advertising," he added.

As PC Gamer reported, Unity has faced some backlash from developers over the merger due to previous incidents where IronSource products have been classed as malware and even blacklisted by Microsoft Windows.

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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