Unity to slash 25% of workforce under former Red Hat CEO Whitehurst

Move comes months after software licensing scandal

Video game software company Unity is laying off a quarter of its workforce, it confirmed in a US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

The layoffs will affect "approximately" 1,800 employees, and the company said the cuts were happening "as it restructures and refocuses on its core business, and to position itself for long-term and profitable growth."

Unity said it couldn't currently reasonably estimate costs associated with the layoff, mostly related to employee transition, severance payments, and employee benefits, but it expects them to be "substantial" and to play out during the first quarter of 2024.

At the helm of Unity, whose software toolkit is used by the likes of Pokemon Go, Cuphead, Heartstone, Hollow Knight, and other popular games, is former Red Hat CEO James M Whitehurst. Whitehurst joined in October last year.

Whitehurst is serving as interim CEO after the company reneged on a promise to never charge developers per-install fees for games created with its tools, which effectively amounted to charging royalties on each sale of a game.

The move faced so much backlash that Unity mostly reversed the decision.

The size of the install fee was expected to be as high as 20 cents, but varied depending on the circumstances. The revised policy dictated that Runtime Fees only applied to games made using Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise, were also created or upgraded to the next major Unity version releasing in 2024, met a $1 million in last year gross revenue threshold, and garnered 1 million lifetime initial engagements.

Unity may have already made a round of cuts under Whitehurst. In November, the company said it would slash 265 jobs, which may or may not be included in the 1,800 total detailed in the SEC filing. ®

The Register has reached out to Unity for comments and clarification and will update if a substantial response arises. ®

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