Effective Immediately, John Riccitiello is out at Unity
Sean Hollister, for The Verge:
Unity, the company behind the game development engine of the same name, has just announced that its president, CEO, and chairman John Riccitiello “will retire” effective immediately.
“The Board will initiate a comprehensive search process, with the assistance of a leading executive search firm, to identify a permanent CEO,” reads the press release, adding that James Whitehurst will step in as interim CEO, president, and board member. “Mr. Riccitiello will continue to advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition.”
While the press release makes no mention of it, this is happening amidst a giant game industry controversy after Unity introduced a new pricing model and retroactively changed its Terms of Service, breaking trust with many game developers in the process.
Some threatened to never use Unity again, or even switch to a new platform in the middle of developing their next game, because of the fees Unity planned to charge every time their games were installed — regardless of whether those installs were legitimate new purchases or whether their games were developed under a different previous agreement with Unity.
In addition to fears they might get hit with huge bills when the changes took effect, game developers pointed out malicious actors could band together to protest marginalized developers by repeatedly downloading and re-downloading their games. And, they were none too happy to see that Unity had removed its Terms of Service from GitHub, preventing developers from easily tracking changes there.
Unity has since changed its pricing scheme — it will now let developers pay them a flat 2.5 percent of a game’s revenue if they’d prefer not to pay based on “engagement.”
Many were quick to point the finger at Riccitiello personally for the disastrous pricing changes, given his history of making controversial statements and decisions around monetization in the past.