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Unity’s CEO steps down following backlash over pricing alterations

John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity, has abruptly retired from the company, and his departure comes on the heels of pricing controversies surrounding the engine. The departure was described by Riccitiello as a privilege, after having led Unity for nearly a decade. James Whitehurst, the former CEO of RedHat, has stepped in as the interim CEO, following IBM’s acquisition of the company.

Prior to his role at Unity, Riccitiello served as the CEO of Electronic Arts from 2007 to 2014, and his tenure there was also marked by controversies, which ultimately led to his departure due to poor financial results.

Riccitiello will continue to advise Unity as it searches for a new CEO. While the exact reason for his sudden departure has not been disclosed, it is speculated that the criticism and backlash related to the company’s new pricing policies may have been a contributing factor.

The former Unity CEO also sold more than 2,000 shares of the company’s stock.

In September, Unity announced a change in its pricing structure, imposing fees on games exceeding certain installation and revenue thresholds, without offering developers the option to opt out. This decision was met with hundreds of protests from developers and even led to temporary office closures due to death threats. Unity later altered its fee policy in response to the backlash, eliminating fees for games using previous builds of the engine. Unity Pro and Enterprise users would only incur fees if their games generated over $1 million in revenue over a year, and this revenue would be self-reported by developers.

The connection between Riccitiello’s departure and the pricing controversy is uncertain at this time, and it remains to be seen whether it was related or coincidental.

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