Unity hints at rethinking that per-install fee buzzkill

Unity hints at rethinking that per-install fee buzzkill
Kerem Gülen

Kerem Gülen

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Unity, the company behind the popular game engine and development tools, dropped a bombshell: Starting January 1, 2024, they’ll be implementing a per-install fee for their runtime software. In layman’s terms? If you’re a game developer using Unity, you’ll be charged a fee for every game installation once you hit a certain threshold of installs and revenue.

The internet, as you can imagine, had feelings about this. A lot of them. Especially the Unity developer community, who took to social media to express their concerns. The overarching sentiment? This new policy could spell financial doom for smaller indie game creators.

Unity, sensing the rising tide of discontent, has since tried to put out the fire. They’ve announced some exceptions to the new policy, including waivers for games released for charitable causes and for titles available on subscription services like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.

So, if you’re a Unity developer, it’s a mixed bag of news. While the policy change could potentially impact your bottom line, there are some exceptions that might offer a lifeline. Either way, it’s a situation worth keeping an eye on as we approach 2024.

Unity’s apology

Unity seems to have heard the uproar loud and clear. In a recent post, the company wanted to “apologize for the confusion and angst” stirred up by its new revenue policy. They’ve been in talks with “team members, community, customers, and partners,” and are in the process of “making changes to the policy.” More details are promised “in a couple of days,” but the question remains: Is it too little, too late?


Developer exodus?

For some in the Unity developer community, the damage may already be done. Take Garry Newman, the brain behind Garry’s Mod and the popular survival game Rust, developed by Facepunch Studios. While the new per-install fee wouldn’t hit Facepunch’s bottom line too hard, that’s not what’s got Newman riled up.

In a candid blog post, Newman expressed his frustration: “It hurts because we didn’t agree to this. We used the engine because you pay up front and then ship your product. We weren’t told this was going to happen. We weren’t warned. We weren’t consulted. We have spent 10 years making Rust on Unity’s engine. We’ve paid them every year. And now they changed the rules.”

Future of Rust

Newman didn’t mince words about the future, either. If there’s ever a sequel to Rust, it “definitely won’t be a Unity game,” he declared.

So, what’s the takeaway here? Unity’s policy change has not only ruffled feathers but may also have long-term consequences for its relationship with developers. While the company is working on damage control, it’s clear that trust has been eroded. For game developers, it might be a good time to weigh your options and stay tuned for Unity’s next move.

Kerem Gülen

Kerem Gülen

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