Unity Introduces New Fees – Developers React

Unity posted information on its blog that appears to have made game developers angry. The blog was titled: “Unity plan pricing and packaging updates”. Here is a piece of that blog:

Effective January 1, 2024, we will introduce a new Unity Runtime Fee that’s based on game installs. We will also add cloud-based asset storage, Unity DevOps tools, and AI at runtime at no extra cost to Unity subscription plans this November.

As many of you know, the Unity Engine is in fact two substantial software components – the Unity Editor and the Unity Runtime. The Unity Runtime is code that executes on player devices and makes Made with Unity games work at scale, with billions of monthly downloads.

We are introducing a Unity Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end user. We chose this because each time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed. Also we believe that an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains form player engagement, unlike a revenue share…

…Only games that meet the following thresholds qualify for the Unity Runtime Fee:

Unity Personal and Unity Plus: Those that have made $200,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 200,000 lifetime game installs.

Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise: Those that have made $1,000,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 1,000,000 lifetime game installs.

Game Developer reported:  As for why Unity has chosen to introduce these new fees, Unity Create president Marc Whitten told Game Developer the company is seeking to “better balance the value exchange” between Unity and developers.

After discussing the ins and outs of the fee, Whitten chose to speak more plainly about why Unity is charging developers an additional fee.  As he put it, “we want to make more money so that we can continue to invest in the engine.”

Axios reported that Unity, the tech company behind one of the most popular engines for creating video games, is scrambling to clarify how a price increase for its services will work, after its announcement Tuesday morning broadly infuriated the game development community.

The fees, which Unity said are essential for funding development of its tech, left many game makers wondering if having a hit game through Unity would cost them more than they could make, Axios reported.

Developers spoke throughout the day of delaying their games to switch to rival Epic Games’ Unreal Engine or other series on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

After initially telling Axios earlier Tuesday that a player installing a game, deleting it, and installing it again would result in multiple fees, Unity’s Whitten told Axios that the company would actually only charge for an install installation. 

Whitten also told Axios that runtime fees will also not charged for installations of game demos, unless the demo is part of a download that includes the full game (early access games would be charged for an installation, he noted). 

Games offered for charity or included in charity bundles will be exempt from the fees. Unity will provide a way for developers to inform Unity that their games are being offered that way, Whitten said.

As for Game Pass and other subscriptions,  Whitten said that developers like Aggro Crab would not be on the hook, as the fees are charged to distributors, which in the Game Pass example would be Microsoft.

Personally, I think that Unity is likely going to lose a lot of game developers who will move to a different system to build games with. Unity made a big mistake, one that game developers will remember.