Unity, one of the leading game development platforms, has recently announced a new policy that is not sitting well with game developers. This policy, known as the Unity Runtime Fee, will require developers to pay a fee for each download of their game that is built on Unity’s game engine. The fee is set to take effect on January 1, 2024, and has already garnered significant backlash from developers on social media.
Unity Runtime Fee Explained
The Unity Runtime Fee is based on two key criteria: the game must have passed a minimum revenue threshold in the last 12 months, and it must have a minimum lifetime install count. Unity has provided different thresholds for developers based on their usage of Unity Personal/Unity Plus, Unity Pro, and Unity Enterprise.
For indie developers using Unity Personal/Unity Plus, they will have to pay Unity $0.20 per install once their game surpasses $200,000 in revenue over the last 12 months and 200,000 life-to-date installs. This new policy has raised concerns among developers, particularly in regards to free-to-play games and charity bundles.
Concerns from Developers
One major concern revolves around « freemium » games that rely on in-game purchases for revenue. If a free-to-play game has earned $200,000 in the last 12 months but has millions of installations, the developer could end up owing Unity more than the profit earned from in-game purchases.
Other developers worry that this policy may lead to smaller developers pulling their games from digital storefronts to prevent excessive downloads. This could potentially have a negative impact on platforms like Steam, Epic, Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft.
Furthermore, some developers have taken to social media to urge people not to install their Unity-built games, as each installation would contribute to their financial burden.
Amidst the backlash, some developers are considering rebuilding their games in alternative game engines and demanding refunds for their lifetime Unity licenses.
In response to the concerns raised, Unity has stated that they are working on preventing malicious installation campaigns by leveraging their fraud detection practices already in place. They have also clarified that the fee will not apply to charity games or bundles.
Unity defends its pricing model, stating that it is designed to charge developers who have already achieved financial success. Developers who are still in the process of building their business and growing their audiences will not be subject to the fee.
Unity intends to track installations using their own proprietary data, and they will count each new installation as a separate fee, even if a player deletes and reinstalls the game.
It is worth noting that Unity’s competitor, Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, has been quick to capitalize on this situation by highlighting that their 5% royalty model only applies to games that have grossed $1 million.
Trust in Unity has been on the decline in recent years, with developers increasingly exploring alternative game engines. The introduction of the Unity Runtime Fee has only further diminished developers’ trust in the platform.
In conclusion, Unity’s new policy has sparked controversy in the game development community. Developers are concerned about the financial implications, the impact on free-to-play games and charity bundles, and the possibility of game removals from digital storefronts. Unity has responded to these concerns, but the backlash continues as developers consider alternatives to Unity and demand refunds for their licenses.
Source : www.ign.com