2 years after purchasing the VFX company’s tools, pipeline, technology and engineering talent pool, the company moves to refocus on video game development, with a goal to become a major player in the professional M&E market; it will also shutter 14 offices.
Where’s the holiday spirit? In another shocking industry announcement, Reuters reports that Unity Software will terminate its working agreement with Wētā FX, effectively eliminating 265 positions (3.8% of their global workforce) associated with the agreement. The move is attributed to a focus on video game development, with a goal to become a major player in the professional M&E market.
Unity acquired Weta Digital’s tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent in December 2021 for US$1.625 billion. As previously reported, the leading real-time 3D content development platform company intended to put “Weta’s incredibly exclusive and sophisticated visual effects (VFX) tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once integrated onto the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity and shape the future of the metaverse.”
At the time, Unity welcomed Weta Digital’s world-class engineering talent of 275 engineers known for architecting, building, and maintaining Weta Digital tools and core pipeline. Weta Digital’s Academy Award-winning VFX teams continued as the standalone entity Wētā FX; former Weta Digital CEO Prem Akkaraju assumed the role of CEO, with Sir Peter Jackson as majority owner.
“We are thrilled to officially welcome Weta Digital’s highly talented engineering team to Unity and to begin the journey of integrating two powerhouse technologies,” commented Marc Whitten, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Create Solutions at Unity at the time.
In a statement to FX Guide, Wētā FX said, “On November 25, 2023, Unity and Wētā FX mutually agreed to terminate Unity’s service agreement with Wētā FX effective December 10, 2023. This decision comes as Unity refocuses their efforts on their core business. The termination of the agreement will see the reduction of 265 Unity roles. Wētā FX will be extending offers to as many of the team as possible as it looks to expand its research, development, and support functions. Unity will retain ownership of the technology it acquired from Wētā in December 2021 and will be evaluating the best way to enhance its offerings with it over time. The technology will also remain fully available to Wētā FX. Wētā FX will continue to build and extend the IP, and develop its own tools and techniques, to continue its evolution as a leader in visual effects.”
In conjunction with the shift in focus, Unity will shutter offices in 14 locations and downsize its remaining offices.