This morning, popular game-engine creator Unity Software announced an update to its pricing and packaging plans, effective January 1, 2024. The new pricing scheme introduces an activation fee and charges developers of high-performing games each time. The title is installed by users or players. The justification is that every time a game is installed, the Unity runtime is also installed.

Unity runtime fee

Starting in January, games will qualify for Unity Runtime Fees once the game has crossed a minimum revenue threshold and a minimum lifetime install count in the last 12 months. Unity says it intentionally set the revenue high and established the limits to avoid affecting smaller developers. Unity’s current limit for Unity Personal and Plus is set for games that have grossed $200,000 or more in the last 12 months and have at least 200,000 lifetime game installs; Once the threshold is hit for those plans, developers will be charged $0.20 per install over the threshold. For Pro and Enterprise editions, games must have grossed $1,000,000 or more in the last 12 months and have at least 1,000,000 lifetime installs. For the Pro license, developers are charged between $0.02 and $0.15 per install over the limit, while Enterprise license holders are charged between $0.01 and $0.125 per install over the limit. According to UnityThe company uses proprietary data models to track and determine how much developers should commit, which has some developers concerned about the lack of transparency.

While Unity says this new install-based fee will allow it to retain its ongoing financial gains from player engagement, the policies don’t directly address the ways people outside of traditional sales will acquire video games in 2024, such as on subscription services like Xbox. Game Pass or Apple Arcade, free games to play or piracy. Additionally, Axios’ Stephen Totillo reports If a player deletes a game and re-installs it, that counts as two installs towards pushing the developer’s threshold, or if they’ve already reached the limit, two personal charges to the developer. The same applies if the game is installed on two devices by the same user. However, it appears that games and bundles sold for charity are exempt from the fee, though some have questioned how exactly Unity tracks the difference between standard sales and charity sales.

After the announcement, Unity He took to Twitter to clarify some points. While the company has admitted that this is a price increase for its engine and technology usage, it is firm in its assertion that most of its developers will not be affected by the change. “Influential developers are usually those who have successful games and are generating revenue above the thresholds we describe on our blog,” the company said in a post on Twitter. “This means that developers who are still building their business and growing their games’ audience will not pay the fee. The program is specifically designed to ensure that developers can succeed before installation fees come into effect.”

Unity too Released a FAQ post In its user forums, it addresses some of the ongoing questions. It’s worth noting that demo downloads, whether they’re early access, a beta, a full game demo, or if you can go from a demo to a full game, all count towards the download amount; The only example provided for demos that do not count towards the download count is if it is a non-upgradable demo that contains a single step. Unity says it has fraud-detection practices in place to detect pirated copies to prevent developers from being charged. It mentions that if a game was previously released and reached the limit years ago, for example, Unity will start charging Unity Runtime Fees for each new install starting January 1, 2024.

You can read the entire post on the Unity blog Here.

Developers respond on social media

In response to these new policies, many independent developers have taken to social media to protest the new pricing plan and install-based fees.

“Today, Unity (the engine we use to make our games) announced that they will soon charge developers a fee for every copy of a game installed over a certain threshold – regardless of how that copy was obtained. A slightly more anticipated game coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2024? That’s right, it’s us and Many other developers. That means another Crab’s Treasure will be free to install for 25 million Game Pass subscribers. If a portion of those users download our game, Unity could charge a fee that would put a huge dent in our revenue and threaten the sustainability of our business. And we’ll lose sales on other platforms or our Before even thinking about pirated installs of the game or multiple installs by the same user. !!!This decision has put us and countless other studios in a position where we cannot justify using Unity for our future titles. If these changes are not rolled back, we will be more than willing to give up our wealth of Unity expertise. We have accumulated over the years and start from scratch on a new engine. It’s really something we don’t do. On behalf of the dev community, we’re calling on Unity to reverse the latest in a series of short-sighted decisions that seem to prioritize shareholders over actual users of their product. I hate it here.” – Agro Crab, developer behind the upcoming Another Crab’s Treasure A statement posted on Twitter.

Longtime indie developer Rami Ismail Also posted on Twitter On some of the potential negative effects of this change from a player’s perspective, “Just a note, gamers, the Unity changes mean the following for you: Demos are now dangerous for devs. DRM-free games are now dangerous for devs. Bundles are now dangerous for devs. Giveaways are now dangerous for devs . Updates are now dangerous for devs. Multi-device users are now dangerous for devs.”

Developer Over the Moon Games initially reacted harshly to the news, saying the 7 million people who downloaded the game when it was free on the Epic Games Store cost the studio more than their lifetime earnings, but the developer’s follow-up posts on Twitter weighed in on the situation. “So (Unity’s) new policy is s— but I overreacted,” The account was posted on Twitter. “200k and 200k installs in the last month will save a lot of cases. It’s still crazy and prone to abuse but if your game sells for 10 bucks a pop, $200k 20k installs – at $10, you have to make 2MM first (you) threshold, if I understand it, that’s even better – With a pro license you have to cross 1MM/1MM. At $10, $1MM is 100K copies. That means you can do 10MM in a single year before fees kick in.”

While the initial announcement was enough to push Unity Software Inc’s stock to 39.69, which opened the day at 37.41, it quickly fell to 37.58 before returning to 38.98 before the stock market closed.

Popular games that use Unity as their engine include Sea of ​​Stars, Pokemon Go, Call of Duty: Mobile, Cuphead, and Cities: Skylines. We reached out to Unity for comment on the development community’s response but did not immediately receive an official response from the company. If it provides one we will update this story with its comment.


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