Unity CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down Following Controversial Pricing Changes

Abhimannu Das
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<div class="paragraphs"><p>John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies</p></div>
John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies


John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies, has resigned from his position following a controversial change to the company’s pricing structure for software and game developers.
Under his leadership, Unity had a successful IPO in 2020, but its stock price declined afterward.

John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity Technologies, has resigned after a controversial change in the company's pricing structure which upset many software developers. Unity is known for its software used in video game development and has traditionally charged developers an annual fee. However, in September, they announced a new fee where developers had to pay extra each time someone downloaded their game, meaning they'd pay more as their games became more popular. Mr. Riccitiello supported this change.

The CEO’s departure is likely tied to Unity’s financial challenges

Unity did not provide a reason for his departure, but it appears related to the financial challenges Unity was facing. The sudden change in the company's financial model angered many developers who rely on Unity for their work.

James Whitehurst, a tech industry veteran, will temporarily take over as CEO while Unity searches for a new one. Unity expects continued revenue growth but remains unprofitable.

Mr. Riccitiello had a history of controversial statements in the gaming industry, including attempts to monetize games in ways that frustrated players. He left Electronic Arts in 2013, apologizing for the company's financial performance, and joined Unity in the following year.

Under his leadership, Unity had a successful IPO in 2020, but its stock price declined afterward. Unity's advertising business, which contributes to over half of its revenue, faced challenges due to changes made by Apple on its mobile devices, limiting data collection from users.

Riccitiello said in a news release, “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.”

Unity's pricing changes have not only triggered internal discontent but also resulted in an astonishing backlash from game developers across the industry. Many have criticized the decision, arguing that it displaces the trust that was built by Unity. 

Internal divisions within the company also criticized the pricing changes. With the CEO stepping down, there is even more confusion among the game development community with regards to Unity’s approach to monetization.

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Abhimannu is a PC esports writer at AFK Gaming. With over seven years of experience in esports journalism, he has worked on a myriad of games and their ecosystems including Valorant, Overwatch and Apex Legends.