Unity CEO John Riccitiello apologises for “fucking idiots” remark – but the heat’s still on

 

After calling many of his company’s customers “fucking idiots” in an interview earlier this week, Unity CEO John Riccitiello has apologised, saying that his “word choice was crude.” 

“I am sorry. I am listening and will do better,” said Riccitiello in a statement posted on Twitter. 

His statement concludes later: “If I had been smarter in choosing my words I would have just said this… we are working to provide developers with tools so they can better understand what their players think, and it is up to them to act or not, based on this feedback.”

He had also previously tweeted on Friday that reports on his comments were “clickbait” and “out of full context”. Nonetheless, his remarks have not been well received by many in game development, to say the least.

Senior staff at Unity itself have been publicly critical of Riccitiello’s remarks. Osama Dorias, senior partner relations manager at Unity, tweeted: “What’s the German word for when an individual contributor finds themself at odds with the values of their executive leadership? Why do I ask? Oh…. No particular reason”

And later added: “Originally, this tweet read: “No, YOU’RE a fucking idiot!” but then I decided against it. Better play it safe, y’know?”

Dorias tweeted the next day that he is moving on from Unity, but had not been laid off or fired.

The thing that Riccitiello was being interviewed about – the IronSource deal announced on Wednesday – has not impressed investors much, either. Unity stock was hovering around the $39/40 mark before the merger was announced on Wednesday, dropped to just over $32 the day of the news, and ended the week at $33.71.

Riccitiello’s apology is in full below. 

“I want to talk about both what I said in the interview, and my follow up tweet. I’m going to start with an apology. My word choice was crude. I am sorry. I am listening and I will do better.

What I can do, perhaps, is provide more on what I was thinking when I did the interview. What I would have said if I had taken greater care.

First – I have great respect for game developers. The work they do is amazing. The creativity can be incredible whether on a AAA 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.

Second – 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.

Third – Sometimes all a game developer wants is to have a handful of friends enjoy the game. Art for art sake and art for friends. Others want player $ to buy the game or game items so they can make a living. Both of these motivations are noble.

Fourth – What I was trying to say, and clearly failed at saying, is that there are better ways for game developers to get an early read on what players think of their game. To learn from their feedback. And, if the developer wants, to adjust the game based on this feedback. It’s a choice to listen and act or just to listen. Again, both are very valid choices.

If I had been smarter in choosing my words I would have said just this… we are working to provide developers with tools so they can better understand what their players think, and it is up to them to act or not, based on this feedback.

Anyway, that’s it. Lots of words. And a sentence that I wish I had never said.”