Unity CEO John Riccitiello retires

Emre Çitak
Oct 11, 2023

After weeks of controversy, partial walkbacks, and apologies surrounding a new fee-based business structure for the Unity engine, game developers and financial markets have responded overwhelmingly positively to the recent news of Unity CEO John Riccitiello's sudden retirement.

Unity, the company behind the popular game development engine, announced on October 11, 2023, at Businesswire that its CEO and chairman, John Riccitiello, has stepped down effective immediately.

In a press release, Unity's board of directors stated that they will be launching a comprehensive search for a new CEO, with the assistance of an executive search firm. James Whitehurst, an advisor at Silver Lake, a private equity firm that owns about 9 percent of Unity, has been appointed interim CEO, president, and board member.

Unity CEO John Riccitiello retires
Unity CEO John Riccitiello can now enjoy retirement

Unity CEO could not handle the heat

Unity CEO John Riccitiello's departure came after weeks of controversy over the company's pricing changes and its treatment of developers.

Riccitiello's tenure as CEO was marked by a number of controversies. In 2020, he was criticized for his comments about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the gaming industry. He also drew fire for his handling of the layoffs of hundreds of employees in 2021.

However, the most recent controversy was the most damaging to Riccitiello's reputation. In September 2023, Unity announced that it would be changing its pricing structure for developers. The new pricing model would have increased the cost of using Unity for many developers, and it was met with widespread backlash.

John Riccitiello initially defended the pricing changes, but he eventually relented and apologized to developers about Unity pricing changes. However, the damage had already been done. Many developers had lost faith in Riccitiello's leadership, and he was forced to step down.

The Unity controversy

The Unity controversy began in September 2023, when the company announced that it would be changing its pricing structure for developers. The new pricing model would have increased the cost of using Unity for many developers, and it was met with widespread backlash.

Developers argued that the new pricing model was unfair and would make it more difficult for them to make a profit. They also criticized Unity for its lack of transparency and communication about the pricing changes.

Game developers express joy

Many game developers have expressed joy and relief over Riccitiello's departure, seeing it as a sign that Unity is finally listening to its community.

Necrosoft Games' Brandon Sheffield, who was one of the most outspoken critics of Unity's initial install-fee plans, wrote on social media that he "truly did not think [Riccitiello's departure] would happen". The CEO's apparent ouster" is the main thing Unity needed to do to start rebuilding trust, so... it's a start," Sheffield continued.


John Riccitiello's net worth

Ex-Unity CEO John Riccitiello's net worth is estimated to be around $100 million. He has made his fortune through a career in the video game industry, including his tenure as CEO of Unity Technologies.

John Riccitiello's resignation from Unity is unlikely to have a significant impact on his net worth. He remains a major shareholder in the company, and its stock price has recovered somewhat since the news of his departure was announced.

However, Riccitiello's resignation is a sign that Unity is facing a number of challenges, including a backlash from developers over its proposed new pricing structure. These challenges could impact the company's long-term growth prospects and, in turn, Riccitiello's net worth.

Feature image credit: Unity.


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