After angering every game dev on Earth, Unity’s top dog retires

  • John Riccitiello has announced his retirement as president and chief executive officer at Unity, effective immediately.
  • James Whitehurst will replace Riccitello as CEO and president in the interim while the firm searches for a replacement.
  • Riccitiello’s retirement comes amid widespread controversy Unity stoked with its proposed Runtime Fee.

One of the most controversial pieces of videogame news in recent months wasn’t about microtransactions or a terrible game release. No, the controversy swirled around Unity, the bedrock atop which many developers build their creations.

In mid-September, Unity announced a new Unity Runtime Fee which would bill game developers every time their title was installed on a user’s machine. While there were thresholds that developers needed to reach before those bills would come due, the fact that this change was announced at all drew the ire of developers.

Eventually, Unity conceded that maybe this was a bad idea and said it would make sweeping changes to the proposal.

Now, John Riccitiello has announced his retirement as president and chief executive officer at Unity. He will also no longer be the chair of Unity’s board of directors. Riccitelo’s departure from Unity is said to be effective immediately.

“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. I look forward to supporting Unity through this transition and following the Company’s future success,” Riccitello said in a press release.

While Unity searches for a replacement, James Whitehurst will replace Riccitello as CEO and president in the interim. However, Roelof Botha, lead independent director of the Unity board has been appointed Chairman.

“With the Company’s experienced leadership and passionate employees, I am confident that Unity is well-positioned to continue enhancing its platform, strengthening its community of customers, developers and partners, and focusing on its growth and profitability goals. I look forward to working closely with the Board and our talented global team to execute on our strategy, and I anticipate a seamless transition,” Whitehurst said in a statement.

As The Verge highlights, Riccitiello was the CEO at EA when it introduced lootboxes in FIFA 09 and had some rather, colourful things to say about devs that don’t put lootboxes in their games.

The press release announcing the retirement of the CEO doesn’t acknowledge the Unity controversy at all. The firm will announce its financial results for the third quarter at the beginning of November and perhaps it will address that then.

On that, Engadget reports that while revenue is expected to fall in the third quarter that decrease would still be a 67 – 70 percent increase from last year.

Whether Unity will continue to enjoy its position in the market, however, remains to be seen. Many developers have expressed discontent at the Runtime Fee proposal and have fairly pointed out that Unity could make other changes that adversely affect them at any time.


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