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Unity is walking back its new (and highly controversial) Runtime Fee policy. The company planned charge developers for each game download after meeting certain thresholds. This move was widely criticized and prompted a boycott of Unity Ads from top development studios.
After apologizing to developers, Unity announced the policy will only apply to games built on the next version of Unity. This version is due out in 2024 (or later). Games built on currently supported versions of Unity will not be affected.
For games built on the next version of Unity, “the fee is only applicable after a game has crossed two thresholds: $1,000,000 (USD) in gross revenue (trailing 12 months) AND 1,000,000 initial engagements,” Unity said in a blog post. Once games cross these two thresholds, developers will be charged the Runtime Fee based on either monthly initial engagements or 2.5% of a game’s monthly gross revenue — whichever is less.
“Your games that are currently shipped and the projects you are currently working on will not be included — unless you choose to upgrade them to this new version of Unity. We will make sure that you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using — as long as you keep using that version,” said Marc Whitten, Unity Create president, in an open letter.
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Additionally, Unity is removing more barriers for its free personal user tier. The service will remain free, and no runtime fees will be charged. Moreover, Unity is also raising the revenue cap from $100,000 to $200,000 and removing the requirement to include a ‘Made with Unity’ splash screen.
Will this save Unity?
Unity’s initial announcement sparked widespread backlash from developers. Unity is widely used for free-to-play games, where a download fee would be particularly burdensome. The abrupt policy change also damaged trust between developers using Unity and the game engine maker.
Further, Whitten also told Axios that runtime fees from games distributed through subscription services like Xbox’s Game Pass would be paid by the distribution platforms themselves. It’s unclear if this policy has changed or how this was received by companies like Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo.
United Game Devs represents 1,000 game developers who staged a boycott of Unity Ads and IronSource Ads in the wake of the pricing change. The group issued this statement.
The main problem is that an update to the runtime fee doesn’t solve its fundamental issue: its existential impact on the game dev community. Building a games business while paying runtime fees, even with its proposed revenue cap, is not an option, and many developers will use the old version of Unity Engine to avoid that fee.
The latest announcement shows again that the game developer community has no choice but to explore and focus on other engines.
Sadly, Unity is also unwilling to openly communicate with its community in a true dialogue to find common ground and a workable solution. Instead, it chose again to inform its community of its changes as a fact. The market rules are simple – everyone prefers to do business with partners whose changes in terms and conditions are transparent and consider developers’ interests.
That is why the community will not rely on Unity in the long run and already started migrating to other engines. As United Game Devs, we will focus on fostering and investing in open-sourced engines.
United Game Devs
GamesBeat’s Dean Takahashi discussed these policy changes today in detail in a Twitter Spaces event that drew more than 7,000 viewers. You can listen to the recording below.
Unity also announced it would host a fireside chat. Creator Jason Weimann will host Whitten later today — at 4pm ET/1pm PT — to address developers’ questions directly.
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