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Unity: Why is Everyone so ANGRY?

by Eric
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In the past decade or so, developing video games has exploded as a hobby. This is partially due to the fact that it’s now easier than ever. It’s more accessible than even Everygame mobile casino. There are tons of online resources where you can get textures, 3d models, animations, sound effects, music, sprites, algorithms, and premade assets for reasonable prices or even for free.

In fact, the majority of the codebase is even done for you, thanks to mostly free game engines like Unreal, Godot, Gamemaker Studio, RPGMaker, and- the one that really shook up the industry, Unity.

Unity was the first game engine that was designed with the intent of use by indie developers. Unlike other engines at the time, Unity was almost completely free to use unless you really wanted some top-tier features OR your published game earned more than $100,000. Other engines, like Unreal, didn’t become free to use until they saw Unity’s success. Unreal went free and set its limit to $1,000,000 (and Unity followed suit soon after).

Unity was perhaps the first game engine I really sunk into after the more toy-like messing around with software like GMS. While the UI is a horrendously ugly gray color, the sheer amount of tutorials and the intuitive drag-and-drop scripting system combined with compatibility for Blender files made Unity the go-to engine to recommend to newcomers. Loads of professional, high-quality games have been made in Unity, such as Hearthstone, Hollowknight, Pokemon Go, and even VR hits like Beatsaber.

Now, I personally swapped to Godot about two-and-a-half years ago, and although I have no regrets, I have nothing particularly against Unity either (well, except maybe its large size, which couldn’t run on my potato laptop at the time).

However, recently the Unity base has been in uproar at the developers for recent actions taken by the company and the direction it has begun steering in. I’m going to break down what happened, the who/what/where/why, and why I think a lot of the outrage is undeserved- as unpopular of an opinion as it might seem.

1) The Layoffs

The first outcry was over the fact that Unity has recently laid off a number of developers to save on costs. The userbase, who have been seething that Unity hasn’t been focusing on fixing a number of core problems with the engine, was naturally upset. Why, when Unity needs devs to fix various problems the community has been screaming about for years now, is the company laying off staff?

It’s easy to jump on the “evil company hates its workers and customers” bandwagon, but that doesn’t actually seem to be the case here. Here’s what happened: Unity fired about 100 developers (out of their total 5000+ employees) who had been brought on to work on a project called Gigaya. Gigaya was to be a video game developed in Unity by the Unity team, whose purpose would be to show off just how powerful of an engine Unity is (it’s basically a showcase of the coolest things Unity could do). However, the game itself was never going to be profitable since it’s just a big marketing tool to make more developers want to use Unity. To cut costs, the Unity higher-ups (John Riccitiello- I’ll get back to him later) decided to cut the project and the staff involved. That being said, about half the staff that had been working on the project got rehired to do other work at Unity.

The bottom line: No, Unity did not lay off its main development team. Is it still kind of a jerk move? Yes, especially after the CEO had promised no layoffs were coming weeks earlier. Is it something to get up in arms about? Ehhh.

2) The Merger

The second thing that set the fanbase off was Unity announcing that it was merging with a company called IronSource. IronSource is an Israeli company founded in Tel Aviv, that specializes in developing software to help monetize apps.

Mobile gaming is huge. In fact, in raw numbers, mobile gaming makes up nearly half of the entire revenue of the gaming industry. It’s not surprising that every major gaming company wants in on that cash whale, and Unity is no exception. By merging with a mobile-focused software company, their hope is to add tools to make Unity more profitable in the mobile sphere. Read more about Wpc 2027 live login and dashboard.

However, IronSource is not without its own controversy. Their first major product was something called InstallCore. The software’s purpose was to make bundling installations easier- and it worked! However, nobody liked it. Have you ever installed software, just clicked next on every page of the installer, only to realize that you have a new browser installed, your default search engine has been changed, and you have an anti-virus software constantly badgering you with notifications? Or, worst-case scenario, you’d end up installing straight-up malware.

This is why alarm bells went off when the merger was announced. If you believed the headlines, you would believe that every download of Unity would soon be coming with viruses pre-installed.

This is unfair. Whatever the gripes with InstallCore, it’s hardly okay to lay the blame on them instead of the bad actors who used the tech to do bad things. That’s like blaming gun manufacturers for mass shootings or Unity for bad games. So while I cannot be happy about this push for the mobile market, since most monetization practices in that sphere nearly fall into the category of “pure evil”, the industry being the way it is hardly IronSource’s fault.

3) The “F*cking Idiots” Comment

Imagine a company building up a dedicated audience, only for a new CEO to step in, make a bunch of controversial changes, followed up by saying that “any developer who doesn’t maximize monetization in their games is a f*cking idiot”. That would be a pretty awful thing to say, wouldn’t it?

Well, that’s not what John Riccitiello actually said.

The full quote is:

PocketGamer: “Implementing monetization earlier in the process and conversation is certainly an angle that has seen pushback from some developers.”

Riccitiello: “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 favorite 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 art forms and mediums, 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.”

Basically, what he’s saying here is that if you want to make a successful business out of mobile games, you have to be thinking about monetization throughout the whole process. Game development is a business like any other, and you need to know your audience and how to sell your product to them.

So, while the choice of words might have been better, the fact of the matter is that, while there are plenty of legitimate criticisms to make about the direction Unity has been going in lately, it’s not wise to jump on the rage-bandwagon before getting your facts straight.

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