Unity Technologies announced the departure of its Chairman and CEO, John Riccitiello, on October 9. The American, at the head of the company since 2014, was replaced by James Whitehurst, former CEO of Red Hat then president of IBM, who takes on the status of interim CEO. He is also stepping down as chairman of the company’s board of directors. “Mr. Riccitiello will continue to advise Unity to ensure a smooth transition,” the statement said.

The company behind Unity Engine, a tool used by many video game developers, has been under fire since mid-September and the abrupt announcement of a new pricing policy. This plans to charge the studios each time a player downloads one of their games for the first time.

As Unity is one of the most widely used game engines in the industry, this new “tax” has caused panic in the industry. Some studios have announced that the price list planned for 2024 risks leading them to bankruptcy, forcing them to delay the release of their future games, or even removing successful titles from download platforms. On September 15, a call to boycott the advertising solutions offered by Unity was even launched by twenty-one smartphone game studios which have been downloaded, in total, more than three billion times.

On September 14, the company had to evacuate its Austin and San Francisco offices for a day after receiving “credible death threats,” Unity said. This protest movement also led Internet users to sign a petition demanding the departure of John Riccitiello. Ten days after the announcement of the new pricing measure, the anger of developers finally forced Unity to partially reverse its new prices.

“We should have discussed this with more of you and should have taken your feedback better into account before announcing our new policy,” wrote Marc Whitten, a senior executive at Unity Technologies, in a statement released on September 22.

Mr. Riccitiello was also at the helm of the company when it laid off 600 people last May. This former CEO of the publisher Electronic Arts was also responsible for Unity’s diversification into cinema, virtual reality and 3D creation software used in the automotive sector.