Weta Digital is to close as Unity begins ‘company reset’

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Unity is to close the VFX tools company Weta Digital, meaning the loss of 265 jobs, as the company concentrates its focus on game development.

An unrelentingly grim year for the games industry is almost at a close, but still the reports of job losses keep on coming. Unity has announced that it’s to close Weta Digital, a VFX software company connected to filmmaker Peter Jackson’s New Zealand-based Weta FX.

Reuters (via Gamespot) reports that the closure will affect some 265 employees, and comes as Unity announces a renewed focus on videogame development.

In a statement to FX Guide, Weta wrote:

“Unity believes the Weta Digital team are remarkable, but Unity needs to become leaner as it focuses its expertise on its core business,” the statement says, explaining why this decision was made. “It also believes it makes more sense for Weta FX to own full end-to-end production activities directly. Unity will be focusing its expertise and people on other matters, and Weta FX will be getting support for its use of the Weta Tools directly from its own crew – a shorter path which makes sense for both companies.”

Unity originally made its deal to create Weta Digital in November 2021, with Peter Jackson selling his company’s visual effects tools for a reported $1.6bn. Jackson’s main visual effects company – which has since created VFX for the likes of Avatar: The Way Of Water continued as Weta FX. That business is unaffected by Weta Digital’s closure.

It’s been a less than auspicious year for Unity, with the September announcement of a controversial Runtime Fee pricing system causing an outcry among indie developers. The pushback was such that Unity was forced to drastically revise its pricing policy a couple of weeks later; by October, John Riccitiello announced that he’d stood down as Unity’s CEO.

As part of Unity’s self-described “company reset,” it’s also closing 14 offices dotted around the globe and encouraging staff to work from home. Unity announced that it had made a loss in its November earnings report, and warned that more job cuts were to come. Some 900 staff have already lost their jobs at the company so far this year; it’s unclear whether there’ll be further cuts after the closure of Weta Digital.

In somewhat happier news, however, Weta FX has pledged to “hire back as many crew as we can” from the now-closed Weta Digital.

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