Unity CEO John Riccitiello Steps Down Amid Controversy

One month ago today, one of the biggest game development platforms out there, Unity, announced policies you’ve probably heard far too much about by now.

Thankfully, after a month of extreme backlash towards Unity’s attempts to nickel-and-dime their userbase, the Unity CEO John Riccitiello has announced his leave from the company.

After this situation and many other incidents, John Riccitiello became one of the most hated CEOs, especially in the gaming industry, meaning this is a time of celebration for most people.

This isn’t surprising, considering he also used to be the CEO of EA, one of the most hated companies in the gaming sphere.

Why is Unity CEO Riccitiello so Hated?

Aside from his last name being hard to spell, Riccitiello has made many decisions and statements that make the entire gaming community despise him.

For one, in 2011, when he was still the CEO of EA, he proposed making players pay for every bullet they fire in a game like Battlefield to be a good idea.

As CEO of Unity, he was the central figurehead behind the proposed system to make game developers pay for every install of their games.

He’s the reason Unity went public in 2020, leading to the engine merging with IronSource, another hated product that is even called malware at times, with its CEO now on the board of directors for Unity.

Image from MacroTrends.net

All that to say, Riccitiello is incredibly out of touch with the gaming community, does things exclusively for profit motive with little regard for quality, and on images showing the stock prices of EA over the years, there’s an extremely noticeable dip when he joined the company in 2007, and an extreme rise when he resigned in 2013.

Why is Riccitiello Leaving Unity?

Despite what that previous chart might have led you to believe, Riccitiello led Unity from near financial ruin into being incredibly profitable from 2020-2021.

However, after that, the company’s stocks tanked incredibly hard due to poor decisions from the Board of Directors, especially the merger with IronSource and the install fees.

So, despite what would make the most sense, Riccitiello likely isn’t leaving Unity due to the countless death threats and vitreal-filled messages he’s received in the past month but because the board wanted him gone.

This makes things unlikely to change because despite being the CEO, he likely wasn’t firing every big shot, including this one.

That said, he’s being temporarily replaced by James M. Whitehurst, former head of open-source software called Red Hat.

They’re just putting him in that position while they seek a more permanent CEO to replace Riccitiello, but do remember that the rest of the board of directors is the same; they’ll likely carry things out in the same way as the last three years.

Unfortunately, the saga of Unity’s poor decision-making is nowhere near over yet. Still, at the very least, developers like Terraria‘s Re-Logic are stepping up and supporting smaller development platforms like Godot, FNA, and Monogame with large, necessary donations to keep those platforms running and to support indie devs.

Further Reading

If you’d like to hear more about Unity’s decisions as they come about in the future or some much-needed levity with info about your favorite indies, stay right here for more.

Unity Introduces New Policy, Forcing Indies to Pay Per Install

Unity Backtracks On Controversial Runtime Fee Policy

Cult of the Lamb Interview: A Chat with Massive Monster

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