Earlier this week, Unity announced they were merging with mobile ads company ironSource, who are arguably best known for developing a malware installer in 2015. Unsurprisingly, game developers were not pleased. If that wasn't enough, however, Unity CEO John Riccitiello was interviewed by PocketGamer.biz on Wednesday, wherein he called developers who failed to plan monetisation strategies when creating their games were “some of the biggest fucking idiots”. Oh dear.
Predictably, developers weren’t keen on Riccitiello’s comments either, ironSource furore aside. Many, in fact, have turned Riccitiello's words back against him. Donut County creator Ben Esposito tweeted that "i made Apple’s iPhone Game of the Year in 2018 (Donut County) using Unity, but according to their CEO i’m a ‘big fucking idiot’ for not making Hole io, the f2p game that ripped it off". Ladykiller In A Bind dev Christine Love, meanwhile, tweeted that "I’m pretty sure the actual reason I’m a 'fucking idiot' is because I’m still using their product."
Respectfully, I’m pretty sure the actual reason I’m a “fucking idiot” is because I’m still using their product https://t.co/Aj9eEa5gTL— Christine Love (@christinelove) July 14, 2022
Riccitiello has since apologised for those comments, insisting they were taken "out of full context", but needless to say, it's not a good look.
Compounding all this is Unity's recent swathe of redundancies. Kotaku reported at the end of last month that Unity had recently laid off hundreds of staff, or around 4% of their workforce. A hiring freeze was put in place across all departments. This came two weeks after Riccitiello reassured Unity’s employees that the company was not in financial trouble and wasn’t intending to lay anyone off.
While Riccitiello insisted in the PocketGamer interview that more than half of the laid-off staff were rehired in other parts of Unity, the news that Unity was merging with a mobile ad company so soon after hundreds of staff were let go has been widely slammed by developers, including Celeste dev Noel Berry:
Unity last month: Lays off hundreds of employees— Noel Berry (@NoelFB) July 13, 2022
Unity this month: Spends 4.4 billion in stock options to merge with a malware ad company
It's a messy state of affairs, and those after a more in-depth breakdown of this whole mess should head over to Game Developer, who have carefully laid out the entire, awful timeline.