The start of 2024 has turned out to be a bad one for Unity, the game engine and development tool company. It has revealed plans to lay off about 1,800 employees, or about 25 percent of its total workforce.
The reveal was announced in a regulatory filing by Unity today (via Reuters). According to the brief filing, the company said this move will allow it to restructure and focus on its core business, “to position itself for long-term and profitable growth.” Unity did not post any information on what the one-time charge will be for laying off a quarter of its workers.
This latest bit of news continues the bad luck street at Unity. It began in September 2023, when the company announced a new business model for its game engine business, The original plan was to charge developers a Unity Runtime code fee for each time one of the games made with the code was downloaded and installed by a gamer.
A large number of Unity game developers immediately protested this move, stating that this install charge could financially impact them, especially if their Unity-based games were offered as a free giveaway or via a service like Microsoft Xbox Game Pass.
Just a few days after this plan was proposed, Unity backtracked on most of its points. The Unity Personal plan for small developers stayed completely free, and the runtime fee would not go into effect for Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise plan subscribers for games they were currently working on.
A couple of weeks later, Unity CEO John Riccitiello, who took over as leader of the company in 2014, announced his abrupt departure, without mentioning the per-install runtime protests. In November, Unity laid off 265 of its employees, due to a termination of an agreement to work with movie director Peter Jackson’s Weta FX so Unity could go back to its core business.
Today’s huge cutbacks at Unity will likely be just the start of a shift in the company. Reuters reports that a company spokesperson confirmed that more changes are in the works, but did not offer details.