Unity recently made a new announcement that was quickly criticized by the development community.
Unity revealed that it was going to make dramatic changes to its Unity Engine business model. The company is planning to introduce a monthly fee per new game install starting on January 1, 2024. This was not received very well by the development community and was quickly lambasted.
Unity Business Model Explained
Unity is a game engine that produced tons of successful games including Cuphead, Hollow Knight, Tunic, Fall Guys, and many more. The engine was previously licensed to developers using a royalty free model built around subscription tiers. Devs who has revenue or funding with less than $100k over the course of the year can still use the free Unity Personal license. Those who got up to $200k revenue though can now get the Unity Pro or the higher tiers.
Starting next year though, this will all change. Developers will now pay an additional monthly Unity Runtime Fee per new game install. Aside from the existing license subscription, these new fees will still be added. Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise subscribers will have their new fees applied after passing the $1 million lifetime installs threshold.
After the fees get added, developers that use Unity Personal must pay $0.2 per new install above the 200k threshold each month. Unity Pro and Enterprise subscribers must pay $0.15 and $0.125 after crossing the 1 million line. Unity Plus has been retired today which means devs who want to access advanced features will need at least $2k annual subscription.
This Complicates Things
The new fees will also be applied to all games that are already in the market that have crossed its revenue and install thresholds. Free game giveaways, game demos, bundles, and more might be in danger if this new ruling passes. Developers might even face charges for pirated game installs. This might even complicate the logistics of various subscription services like Game Pass on Xbox.
Community in Uproar
The community is already enraged of this new development from Unity with others in utter disbelief and confusion. Some developers are already pledging to switch game engines if this continues.
Eurogamer spoke to Size Five Games’ Dan Marshall to ask his opinion on the matter. “It’s an absolute fucking catastrophe,” Marshall said, “and I’ll be jumping ship to Unreal as soon as I can. Most indies simply don’t have the resources to deal with these kind of batshit logistics. Publishers are less likely to take on Unity games, because there’s now a cost and an overhead,” he continued. “How this is being tracked is super vague and feels half-thought-through. It seems open to review-bombing exploits, but in a way that actually costs developers. If someone buys a game on Steam and installs in on three machines, are Devs liable for three payments? If so, that sucks. Gamepass is suddenly a massive headache… the list goes on.
“It’s all just utterly horrible, and they need to backtrack on this instantly or every Dev I know is likely jumping ship tomorrow.”
“I have a couple of projects on the go in Unity right now,” Marshall continued, “and they’re far enough along that changing engine isn’t an option, and I get a sickly feeling in my stomach just thinking about this. A horrendous policy, presumably dreamed up by the money men. I’m legitimately quite angry. I’ve been using Unity for over 10 years, that’s a lot of investment in a system I’m about to drop like a hot rock.”