The CEO of Unity Technologies, John Riccitiello, has retired (effective immediately) following severe consumer backlash to a proposed change in their pricing policy.
Unity Technologies, developer of Unity, one of the world’s most popular game engines, announced a policy change in September. The new ‘Unity runtime fee’ would have resulted in developers needing to pay a fee to Unity Technologies every time one of their games was installed.
This policy change was hit with severe backlash. Developers of several games commented on it, with many suggesting that they would not use Unity in future titles, and Re-Logic, developer of Terraria, donated over $200,000 to competing game engines. In addition, Unity Technologies was forced to close two of its offices following a “credible death threat” that was later revealed to have been made by an employee of the company. Unity later walked back several features of the policy change.
Now, Unity Technologies have announced that CEO John Riccitiello has stepped down with immediate effect. In the announcement, no mention was made of the backlash to the Unity runtime fee.
This pricing controversy has created a lasting impact— after the announcement of Mr Riccitiello’s resignation, popular indie developer Mega-Crit (developers of Slay the Spire) have announced that their next game will be made on the game engine Godot.
Industry consultant Rami Ismail said: “Right now, developers want reassurances that terms won’t get changed on them again, and given the broken trust, that might be impossible to do.” He also remarked that this policy change was an “unparalleled executive misfire,” praising Unity creative head Marc Whitten’s “stable, apologetic, but forward-facing” open letter of apology.
In a press release, Mr Riccitiello said: “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,” and that “I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success.”