Unity Gaming boss quits after furious pricing backlash

Unity Gaming boss quits after furious pricing backlash


Unity’s game engine serves as the backbone for many beloved video games like PokΓ©mon Go, Genshin Impact, and Beat Saber, making it a popular choice, especially among small studios.

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Unity Gaming boss quits after furious pricing backlash resignation as the CEO of Unity, a game development tool company, comes on the heels of a controversial pricing change that drew the ire of both gamers and developers. The contentious proposal involved charging studios each time a game using Unity’s code was installed, a code that powers a multitude of modern video games. Notably, larger developers were already paying licensing fees to integrate Unity into their games. Following widespread backlash, Unity has largely retracted its plans and issued an apology. Unity announced the immediate retirement of Mr. Riccitiello from the company.

Unity Gaming boss quits after furious pricing backlash

It functions as a software platform for developers, offering a suite of tools to facilitate various aspects of game creation, such as animation and audio. While it’s possible to build such an engine from scratch, the complexity often leads companies to opt for ready-made versions to save time. Unity has garnered favor among developers for its widespread usage and user-friendly features.

However, the announcement made in September by Mr. Riccitiello to revise the company’s developer pricing structure sparked significant outrage, with some developers even considering discontinuing their use of Unity. Concerns also emerged among gamers and fans regarding whether free-to-play games might need to undergo changes to accommodate the new fees. The situation escalated to the point where Unity had to evacuate its San Francisco offices due to a reported death threat on social media.

In response to the intense backlash, Mr. Riccitiello expressed his humility and regret in an interview with the New York Times. It’s worth noting that this was not his first clash with the gaming community, as he had previously issued an apology for using inappropriate language to describe developers who disagreed with his monetization strategies.

The abrupt departure of Mr. Riccitiello from Unity was not accompanied by an official explanation. He had joined the company in 2013 after serving as the CEO of Electronic Arts (EA), a prominent publisher responsible for games like EA Sports FC (formerly known as Fifa), The Sims, and Mass Effect. His resignation from EA in the past was due to the company falling short of financial forecasts, and he took full accountability for the outcome.

Mr. Riccitiello reflected on his time at Unity, stating, “It’s been a privilege to lead Unity for nearly a decade and serve our employees, customers, developers, and partners, all of whom have been instrumental to the company’s growth.” He expressed his commitment to supporting Unity during the transition and in its future endeavors.

James Whitehurst, a former executive at IBM, will assume the role of interim CEO to succeed Mr. Riccitiello. Unity went public in September 2020, with its market capitalization initially reaching $13.6 billion, but its share price has since experienced fluctuations, currently trading at $29.70 each. Despite Unity’s growing revenue, which reached $553 million in the three months ending on June 30, the company continues to report losses, with the most recent quarterly results indicating a pre-tax loss of $188.5 million.

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