Image: Unity Software

John Riccitiello (Unity Technologies CEO) and Marc Whitten (Senior Vice president and General manager of Unity Create), were interviewed regarding the upcoming Unity-ironSource merger. This merger follows the recent aquisition of Weta Digital in November 2021. It was during the interview that Mr. Riccitiello made a very bold statement after they were asked about implementing monetization earlier in the process of game development to which he provided some compliments along with a very blunt criticism as well.

Ferrari and some of the other high-end car manufacturers still use clay and carving knives. 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 anybody – 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.

I’ve seen great games fail because they tuned their compulsion loop to two minutes when it should have been an hour. Sometimes, you wouldn’t even notice the product difference between a massive success and tremendous fail, but for this tuning and what it does to the attrition rate. There isn’t a developer on the planet that wouldn’t want that knowledge.

Since the controversial statement regarding monetization was made in the interview various outlets have reported on it and, as usual, memes about it have also begun to appear on social media triggering a response from Mr. Riccitiello.

Monetization in games continues to be a hot topic among gamers and depending on how they are implemented, government leaders as well.

Source: PocketGamer.biz (via VGC)

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Peter Brosdahl

As a child of the 70’s I was part of the many who became enthralled by the video arcade invasion of the 1980’s. Saving money from various odd jobs I purchased my first computer from a friend of my...

26 comments

  1. On one hand, yeah, you don't call your customer base idiots.

    On the other hand, he has a point...
    Sadly. For evidence, look no further than the battle royal games that came out with strong monetization early on that are wildly successful. Or look at the MMO's like Star Wars The Old Republic and Star Trek Online that literally switched from the WoW monthly subscriber model to supporting themselves via a cash shop. The one for Star Trek Online is spectacularly predatory. It's not pay to win exactly, but it skirts the lines more than any other cash shop I've ever seen. It's also ludicrously expensive.
  2. Sadly. For evidence, look no further than the battle royal games that came out with strong monetization early on that are wildly successful. Or look at the MMO's like Star Wars The Old Republic and Star Trek Online that literally switched from the WoW monthly subscriber model to supporting themselves via a cash shop. The one for Star Trek Online is spectacularly predatory. It's not pay to win exactly, but it skirts the lines more than any other cash shop I've ever seen. It's also ludicrously expensive.
    Just because it is a successful model for some doesn't mean everybody should do the same thing.

    I think these cash shops are sustained by a handful of whales, the rest doesn't interact with it or just minimally. They are leaving half of the market untapped if all they do is this crap.

    I mean how many examples do they need of decent anticipated single player games with no predatory monetization selling millions of copies?

    This CEO is the type of guy like that artesian builds idiot.
  3. Just because it is a successful model for some doesn't mean everybody should do the same thing.
    Idk that this unity dude is saying everyone needs predatory cash shops — he’s just saying devs need to put more thought into monetization (and since his company is buying an ad-based monetization platform it’s also a plug for that)
  4. Just because it is a successful model for some doesn't mean everybody should do the same thing.

    I think these cash shops are sustained by a handful of whales, the rest doesn't interact with it or just minimally. They are leaving half of the market untapped if all they do is this crap.

    I mean how many examples do they need of decent anticipated single player games with no predatory monetization selling millions of copies?

    This CEO is the type of guy like that artesian builds idiot.
    Which approach makes more money overall? It seems obvious its the microtransactions. I don't know if it's "half the market" they are leaving untapped.
  5. Which approach makes more money overall? It seems obvious its the microtransactions. I don't know if it's "half the market" they are leaving untapped.
    Which approach makes more money, raising cattle, or planting grain fields? Doesn't mean every farmer should be doing the one thing that has the potential to be more profitable. (because not every predatory game becomes a cash dispenser)

    I hate the fact that every publication is touting around diablo immortal as a bloody sword that killed traditional games, when it made much less money since it's release than a proper diablo game would've made in days.

    Besides there are only so many of these games the market can support before they start cutting into each other's revenue. Unlike quality single player games, for which there is always demand for.
  6. Idk that this unity dude is saying everyone needs predatory cash shops — he’s just saying devs need to put more thought into monetization (and since his company is buying an ad-based monetization platform it’s also a plug for that)
    I think that's exactly what he is saying. As far as I'm concerned anything beyond the initial buy in price is predatory monetization in a game. Member when Mass Effect 3 came out and everyone was upset about day-0 DLCs? And now here we are with some trying to justify in game cash shops, oh how far we have fallen.
  7. I think that's exactly what he is saying. As far as I'm concerned anything beyond the initial buy in price is predatory monetization in a game. Member when Mass Effect 3 came out and everyone was upset about day-0 DLCs? And now here we are with some trying to justify in game cash shops, oh how far we have fallen.
    Reading the article he is saying extending the satisfaction loop. More grind more money... which makes zero sense to me unless we're talking about an mmo.
  8. Reading the article he is saying extending the satisfaction loop. More grind more money... which makes zero sense to me unless we're talking about an mmo.
    It doesn't make sense even for an MMO, how long the gameplay loop is does not determine whether a game is enjoyable or not. But of course he is not talking about enjoyment is he? He purely views games as products and the measure of success is not how much it is praised and how many people like it, but how much money can it squeeze out of the hapless idiots who spend real money to get ahead in a game.
  9. He purely views games as products
    Well, when your business is making video games, yeah. That is how he should be looking at it.

    Is it a shame? Maybe. If you don’t like the product don’t buy it and they will change their ways.
  10. Well, when your business is making video games, yeah. That is how he should be looking at it.

    Is it a shame? Maybe. If you don’t like the product don’t buy it and they will change their ways.
    Do you think a novelist views their latest book as just a product? No it is an art form, if you are making a product you should not be in entertainment but making screws in a factory, that's a product.

    I have never bought any of it, didn't help thus far. So, yeah I'm speaking out against it everywhere I can. Because if you just ignore it and do nothing they have already won. Every time we were able to push back was because we spoke out, vote with your wallets doesn't do ****.
  11. Do you think a novelist views their latest book as just a product? No it is an art form, if you are making a product you should not be in entertainment but making screws in a factory, that's a product.

    I have never bought any of it, didn't help thus far. So, yeah I'm speaking out against it everywhere I can. Because if you just ignore it and do nothing they have already won. Every time we were able to push back was because we spoke out, vote with your wallets doesn't do ****.
    The best way to profit is to make a great game. This is predatory game design this guy is talking about. I think I get it.
  12. Do you think a novelist views their latest book as just a product? No it is an art form, if you are making a product you should not be in entertainment but making screws in a factory, that's a product.
    There is a big different between Agatha Christy, who is a professional author, and James Joyce, who is an artist.

    Now, the two can overlap somewhat. But an artist who can make a living off of it is the exception, and not the rule.

    Publishers exist to make money. They very much look at games similarly to screws in a factory. If you want to be an artist, you break off and do the indie thing -- maybe you do actually make something great and publishers get interested and pick up your work, but probably not -- you'll probably end up self-publishing and selling a handful of units, but probably not enough to pay the rent.
  13. There is a big different between Agatha Christy, who is a professional author, and James Joyce, who is an artist.

    Now, the two can overlap somewhat. But an artist who can make a living off of it is the exception, and not the rule.

    Publishers exist to make money. They very much look at games similarly to screws in a factory. If you want to be an artist, you break off and do the indie thing -- maybe you do actually make something great and publishers get interested and pick up your work, but probably not -- you'll probably end up self-publishing and selling a handful of units, but probably not enough to pay the rent.
    The only difference between a professional author and a poor artist, is that one has found their audience while the other hasn't. You don't have to be struggling to be called an artist.

    I do not know why are you trying to defend them. When it was demonstrated numerous times that great games sell themselves basically. While predatory stuff is hit or miss.

    I think if they were able to think in long term, making 100 million on a game with good reputation is better than making 150 million while thrashing their reputation.

    I mean sure GTA trilogy remasters made a ton of money, but they were received so badly that apparently rockstar cancelled their GTAIV remake. So that's a giant L for them.
  14. The only difference between a professional author and a poor artist, is that one has found their audience while the other hasn't. You don't have to be struggling to be called an artist.

    a poor artist can be a lousy artist who has no audience due to lack of quality, a professional artist can make the same stuff over and over again and be succesfull but where is the art in that?

    Not that long ago, a lot of movie actors could not be convinced to play in TV shows due to the poor quality of a lot of it. Soaps are hugely succesfull but is it art?

    Making a great game is hard work and takes time and skill or else you end up with stuff like BF2042 or the umpteenth COD or FIFA, they are just by the numbers games.

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