Ah I don’t know how I almost forgot this gem, but today I got reminded of Unity and the terrible direction it has been taking and remembered to write about them. I guess at this point “How NOT to be a CEO” might as well turn into a series of posts, since I don’t know what happen but, for the past half a decade, companies have been either hiring aliens or just overly rich people who don’t seem to understand how the world works outside their personal bubble.
So without any more delays, let’s talk about John Riccitiello and how he’s helping Unity die a very fast death.
“Developers are Fucking Idiots”
“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.“John Riccitiello
Yep, that’s a quote from him. Now, what goes in the mind of a CEO of a company that creates TOOLS FOR GAME DEVELOPERS to call passionate developers who don’t monetize the air the players breath as “biggest fucking idiots” is beyond my imagination, but it’s not unexpected since it comes from the ex-president of EA Games, who lead the company during the times where they transition from better than activision to basically a cash grab factory.
Fusion with IronSource
Now, if having bad mouthed the customers wasn’t bad enough, it was also during John’s administration that Unity and IronSource fused into a single company. You may be asking yourself “and why is that a problem?”, well let me answer that: IronSource is an ADS company, and one who is famous for doing great things like bundling un-wanted software and browser add-ons into its installers and distributing potentially dangerous software, even flagged by microsoft as malware.
So obviously, almost all Unity developers complained about this on twitter(no, still not going to call it X, Elon), on the official forums, on reddit, etc. What did our dear John do about it? Continued the fusion anyway. After all, listening to your customer’s concerns about how your product is going from an engine to a money grabbing too is for the weak.
New Fees and Forced DRM
To add more nails to this sad coffin, Unity just today announced that once a project reaches $200k annually and have 200k life-time installs will now be forced to pay 20 cents per install. That doesn’t sound like much, but think about how many free games exist that were made in unity and exploded in popularity in the past few years. Some of them might have made 200k in a year for their developers, but just barely, since many only make money through donations.
Now, for every singular installation, and that does included re-installing, so trolls could make you lose money by re-installing your game over and over, that you pay the 20 cents: 1 Million installs, 1 dollar, 10 million, 10 dollars, 1 billion(which sounds like a lot, but a popular game that gets updated a few times a year could easily reach that) 1000 dollars, so on and so forth. Add in royalties, developing licenses for each platform, taxes, assets bought, etc and indie delopment is as good as dead.
Not to forget however that for unity to KNOW how many installs a game has, who made it, etc they will need to ship code within every project that will send to their servers information about you, what you’re installing and how many times. So, good bye privacy!
Update 13/9/2023: And would you look at that, John might have imagined the impact of his actions, since he sold Stock just before announcing the Fees.
Update 16/6/2023: Again unity making terrible decisions under John. They tried deleting the GITHUB TOS Repo that kept tracking of TOS changes for unity, in order to illegally try to charge developers running older versions of the engine, that have different terms of service, the same fee
To me, it’s pretty obvious Unity will start losing the remaining of it’s community in the next year or two. Not only have they shown to not care for their customers, but also have proven to be a untrustworthy company, whose word is basically worth nothing. The CEO has clearly shown yet again that billionaires don’t know what planet they live in, and that if they could make a dollar by killing a puppy, they would.
It’s a bit depressing seeing such a cool project decay like this, becoming buggier and bloated with useless features nobody asked for and with policies that feel like they were made by Adobe, but at least we still got alternatives! If you’re looking for alternatives to Unity, I’ve written a post not long ago that should be updated soon.