Pessimistic Reaction to Former EA CEO John Riccitiello Is “Incredibly Unfair,” Says Helgason

The recent announcement of former Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello becoming the CEO of Unity has been met with harsh comments by the community, reactions that now former Unity CEO David Helgason believes is "incredibly unfair," in an interview with GamesIndustry.

The choice of Riccitiello boiled down to his experience in publishing video games and founding tech companies, despite the fact that fans remember him for paid DLC and the debacle involving SimCity:

…[T]he thing is I don't have experience in publishing. I've been around a lot of developers so I have a fairly good grounding in it, but meeting John, who had been through all aspects of it. I mean, EA is famous for some of these AAA titles, but they also had Pogo, they had mobile publishing…

He brought this deep understanding of the challenges facing both game developers and publishers, and besides EA, which he's most famous for, he's also advised a lot of smaller companies, served on boards around the games industry, and just generally been somebody who's connected to a lot of things – many more things than he's famous for.

When asked about the historic dichotomy between EA and Unity, that Riccitiello "represents a part of the industry that Unity grew up, if not in opposition to, then at the very least separate from," Helgason responded by indicating that there are two different reactions at the moment:

I've just been chatting with people on Twitter, but I'd say there seems to be two camps. There's people who generally like Unity and trust me and the team, and/or know how great John is. They're either accepting that it'll be more of the same, or excited that we have more firepower to do our stuff.

And then there are people who remember a game that crashed during his tenure. Or, and this is more serious, they had a friend that got fired during the massive layoffs that EA had to go through. That's not fun.

Especially of someone who was brought in to save the company from bankruptcy and turn it around. And who, as far as anyone can see, did just that. But there are people who only know that side, and are worried about him or afraid of him or think he's bad news. And I think that's incredibly unfair.

So that begs the question: Which of these two camps do you fall into?