Former EA CEO Apologizes For Calling Devs "Idiots"

Former EA CEO John Riccitiello defended microtransactions and called out developers who are against them. Now he issued an apology.

EA Microtransactions
Microtransactions have become almost normal. | EA/Blizzard

Longtime EA CEO John Riccitiello, who is now CEO of Unity Technologies, recently made headlines with an interview from PocketGamer. The interview was about the growth and future of the gaming industry, and Riccitiello explained, among other things, what he thinks are the main factors holding developers back from even greater success. One of the factors that determines the success of a game, according to him, is microtransactions.

We all know and hate microtransactions, right? Every time a new game gets released that includes microtransactions, there's a huge shitstorm on Reddit and other platforms. The best known titles are probably Star Wars Battlefront or FIFA, but of course also mobile games like Diablo Immortal. The problem is not only the gambling factor of lootboxes with random items, but above all the blocking of certain game content behind microtransactions.

So you might think that microtransactions are the devil and developers shouldn't even use them, right? John Riccitiello, however, has a completely different opinion.

"Devs Need To Embrace How To Figure Out What Makes A Successful Product"

In the Interview with PocketGamer Riccitiello was asked if monetization earlier in the process has seen pushback from some developers. His answer was pretty surprising:

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.

So Riccitiello said that while he respects developers who still make games like they did 10 or 20 years ago, that's not how the gaming industry works anymore. Microtransactions are part and parcel of today's gaming world if you want to make a profit as a developer. A lot of gamers expect or demand free-to-play games from publishers – most battle royale games, like Warzone, Fortnite and Apex and almost all mobile games are free-to-play. However, to maintain a free-to-play model, microtransactions are absolutely necessary.

Riccitiello's Apology

As you might expect, Riccitiello's statement that developers who don't focus on monetizing their games are the "biggest fucking idiots" caused quite a stir online. In a tweet, the Unity CEO now apologized, saying:

My word choice was crude. I am sorry. I am listening and I will do better

Here you can read the whole apology:

What do you think about John Riccitiello's attitude towards microtransactions? Do you find them acceptable as long as there are only cosmetic items in the store? Or are you absolutely against microtransactions and would rather pay more for a complete game?