clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Unity CEO out following widely criticized pricing model update

Private equity firm advisor will replace John Riccitiello as interim CEO

In this photo illustration the Unity Technologies logo is seen on a laptop keyboard Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Unity CEO John Riccitiello has retired — effective immediately, as of Monday — as president, chief executive officer, chairman, and member of the company’s board of directors, according to a news release from the game engine developer. The move comes weeks after the disastrous announcement of Unity’s new “Runtime Fee” pricing model attracted widespread condemnation across the game development community, and necessitated a swift climbdown from the company.

James M. Whitehurst, advisor at the Silver Lake equity investment firm, which owns 9% of Unity, will serve as interim CEO while a replacement is sought, Unity announced. “I am honored to join Unity as interim CEO and president at this important time in its evolution,” Whitehurst said in Unity’s news release. The release made no mention of the recent controversy around the changes to its pricing model and Terms of Service.

On Sep. 12, Unity announced that it would be moving from its existing revenue sharing model for developers using its engine — which include many small independent developers, as well as the makers of games like Pokémon Go and Hearthstone — to a “Unity Runtime Fee,” which would charge developers for every time a game is installed on a device. The announcement was almost universally condemned by the video game developer community.

Following a boycott from mobile game developers, and the closure of several offices due to a “credible death threat,” Unity promised further changes. On Sep. 22, it unveiled a new plan with multiple changes, including that the Runtime Fee pricing system would not be retroactively applied to existing versions of Unity software, only the upcoming 2023 LTS version, expected to ship in 2024. But for many developers, it was too late, and the unilateral change to Terms of Service they had agreed to at the start of long projects represented a serious breach of trust.

It looks like Riccitiello has been made to carry the can for this public relations disaster. But the former EA CEO is no stranger to controversy or to resigning from high profile jobs. He may yet be back.

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.