Unity CEO Steps Down Amid Price Increase Controversy

Unity CEO Steps Down Amid Price Increase Controversy

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: October 10, 2023

Unity President, CEO, and Chairman John Riccitiello has decided to step down from his roles, the company announced in a press release on Monday. 

James Whitehurst will replace Riccitiello as interim CEO and president, while Lead Independent Director of the Unity Board Roelof Botha has been appointed as the new chairman.

"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,” Riccitiello shared.

"I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success.”

Riccitiello Leaves Following Price Hike Controversy

Riccitiello's resignation comes in light of the company's move to rescale the pricing scheme of its game development platform.

This entailed a new "runtime fee," as well as an additional 20-cent fee charged to developers whenever their game has amassed 200,000 downloads and $200,000 in revenue.

If this had pushed through, the new prices would have taken effect as soon as next year, affecting games in progress, and those already released.

The price hike was met with massive backlash from developers, some of whom have called Riccitiello to step down from his role, and even went as far as sending death threats to Unity employees.  

Innersloth, the game developers behind the multiplayer game "Among Us" which was made using the Unity platform, shared that the price hikes "would harm not only us but fellow game studios of all budgets and sizes."

"If this goes through, we'd delay content and features our players actually want to port our game elsewhere (as others are also considering). But many developers won't have the time or means to do the same," it added. 

The immense backlash led Unity to postpone its price increase.

As a solution, Unity has instead decided not to charge Unity Personal subscribers with the new fee, and games with less than $1 million in revenue in the last 12 months will also be exempted. 

However, some developers believe the damage has already been done. 

Necrosoft founder Brandon Sheffield argued that his company no longer trusts Unity to stick to its word.

"I think they have done irreparable damage to their brand for game developers in general, and the walk-back isn’t going to fix it," Sheffield concluded.

Edited by Nikola Djuric

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