This article is available in: French
It’s hard not to see this announcement as a consequence of the recent turmoil within the Unity community: CEO John Riccitiello is retiring, after 9 years at the head of the company. He is also retiring from his roles as chairman and the company board of directors. In, other words, he is leaving Unity.
A few weeks ago, the company behind the Unity game engine, which also acquired Weta Digital’s technological tools, announced a major change in its business model. The idea was to bill a studio everytime a user was downloading and installing their game for the first time.
This radical change, after years of a generous policy that greatly contributed to the engine’s success, sparked massive outrage, with some studios finding it impossible to remain profitable. The backlash was so intense that the company partially backtracked and issued a public apology.
The confusion caused by these announcements and the loss of trust within the community likely led to John Riccitiello’s departure. The official statement uses a smoothed-over tone, referring to it as a “leadership transition.” John Riccitiello expressed his satisfaction with nearly 10 years of leading the company, while Unity acknowledges his work during that period. Recent setbacks are not mentioned at all.
James M. Whitehurst becomes the interim CEO and President of Unity, pending the appointment of a new leader. He has previously served as President of IBM.
The new CEO will face an immense task: turning around Unity’s finances, as the company has struggled to convert its colossal revenue (over one billion per year) into profits rather than massive losses. They will also need to rebuild trust with studios and independent developers within the community.
The group’s next financial results will be unveiled on November 9th.