Updated: Oct 10
Unity's Top Executive Resigns Amid Monetization Controversy
First reported by CNBC, In a surprising turn of events, Unity's long-standing CEO, John Riccitiello, has stepped down from his roles as president, CEO, chairman, and board member, effective immediately. Riccitiello, previously known for his greedy leadership at Electronic Arts, had been at the helm of Unity since 2014, joining the board a year earlier in 2013.
The sudden departure arises in the wake of Unity's recent and contentious plans to monetize its renowned game engine. Just weeks ago, Unity unveiled a plan that would require developers to pay every time a game, made with its engine, was downloaded. This decision, set to take effect in January 2024, faced significant backlash from the developer community, leading some to even boycott Unity's services.
Facing the brunt of criticism, Unity made a swift move to amend its plans. In their revised model, Unity eliminated the per-install fees for developers using Unity Personal or Plus plans. Moreover, the new fees were scrapped for games already in circulation.
Unity's board has moved quickly to fill the leadership void left by Riccitiello. Former IBM president, James Whitehurst, has been named as the interim CEO and president of Unity. Additionally, Roelof Botha, previously the lead independent director on Unity's board, will now serve as its chairman.
Reflecting on his tenure at Unity, Riccitiello said:
"It's been an honor leading Unity over the past several years, working alongside dedicated employees and partners. I eagerly anticipate Unity's future accomplishments and will continue to support the company during this transitional phase."
The recent events underscore the challenges and responsibilities tech companies face when implementing new monetization strategies, especially when they risk alienating their core user base. Unity's experience serves as a lesson in balancing business needs with community expectations... But to be honest, it was such a bad move that he should have lost his job over it. I see this as an absolute win for the industry.