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John Riccitiello Steps Down As Unity CEO, Weeks After Runtime Fee Controversy

JJ Rankin  |   Oct 11, 5:52 AM   |   6 min read

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  • Unity, the company behind the game development engine of the same name, has just announced that its president, CEO, and chairman John Riccitiello is retiring effective immediately

  • James M. Whitehurst, advisor at the Silver Lake equity investment firm, which owns 9% of Unity, will serve as interim CEO

  • The change in leadership comes weeks after Unity announced its Runtime Fee which earned the company a massive backlash


UNITY President and CEO John Riccitiello is retiring effective immediately. Riccitiello is stepping down from his role as chairman and a member of the company's board of directors. The company has announced that Riccitiello will 'advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition'. Meanwhile, the company has reportedly appointed James Whitehurst as interim chief executive officer. 


Whitehurst is an advisor at the Silver Lake equity investment firm, which owns 9% of Unity. “The Board will initiate a comprehensive search process, with the assistance of a leading executive search firm, to identify a permanent CEO,” reads the company's press release.


Riccitiello’s retirement which may or may not have been planned comes mere weeks after Unity’s runtime fee controversy which outraged the global gaming community. The game engine by Unity Technologies introduced a Runtime Fee in September, based on the number of users installing games built on the engine which was designed to kick in after developers cross specific revenue and install thresholds. 


Read More: 'We Have Heard You': Unity Apologises For Controversial Pricing Rule; Promises Changes


Unity Seeks Change In Leadership As Runtime Fee Crisis Looms



Soon after, Unity apologised for its new fee which received major backlash as indie developers, gamers, journalists and market experts expressed frustration at the half-baked pricing which seems unfair towards emerging developers. It was also deemed incompetent towards tackling piracy-related issues or instal-bombing. Hundreds of developers released statements denouncing Unity, with some calling for Riccitiello’s resignation. 

"We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused," the company said in a post on X. "We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback."


Riccitello had also made controversial statements about monetization in game development before. Last year in July, he had to issue an apology after he described developers as 'some of the biggest fucking idiots,' in response to an interview about game makers' views on monetisation.

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JJ Rankin



JJ is a writer for the Gaming section at Gossip.GG and brings multiple years of experience covering the gaming beat.




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