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Unity under fire for boasting features aimed at gambling industry

Published: 11:16, 20 May 2019
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Roulette table, cc0
Roulette table

Unity's team found themselves in hot, or at least warm water, after tweet-boasting about the upcoming version of Unity coming with features for developers in the gambling industry. The tweet has since been pulled but reactions persist.

"We recently delivered our first release of the year, Unity 2019.1, which includes `300 features, many of which are especially helpful for developers in the gambling industry", the tweet said.

Unfortunately, many fans seem to have taken Unity's tweet as outright support of the gambling industry, raising ethical dilemmas in the process of doing so, to the point where the tweet was deleted.

That's not to say that there wasn't some sound criticism, and the response by Insomniac Game's character artist Xavier Coelho-Kostolny should probably be read by everyone, regardless of where you stand in the matter.

"Most gamers comment on how annoying they are, but few people address how harmful they are", he said, explaining that "this pay-for-potential-rewards structure is lifted directly from casino gambling — slot machines in particular."

Coelho-Kostolny stressed that the hyped-up sounds and visuals, low initial investment and the "intentionally stingy reward cycle" all play their roles in what's ultimately a harmful practice.

He gave the example of one of their highest spenders on Neverwinter Nights, a single mother of 3-4 kids from Kentucky.

"This single mother was spending over a thousand dollars a month on in-game items, people knew her salary range, and could literally stick a pin in a map with her physical address", he added.

"Supporting the gambling industry is lucrative, but also INCREDIBLY unethical. You're supporting a system designed to literally, not figuratively, LITERALLY prey on the addictions of a relatively small number of people", Coelho-Kostolny added.

Unity Logo of the game development engine Unity Unity

Unity pulled the tweet and later posted another, so as to inform users that they removed the post "related to some upcoming 2019.1 features that are useful to creators of real-money games", which is practically the same post, just paraphrased.

To be fair though - it seems to attract much less negativity than the original one, so we guess it worked, while keeping the promised features.

You can find Unity's post here (the original was deleted), while Coelho-Kostolny's in-depth analysis of these systems can be found here .

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