Unity Temporarily Closes Offices Amid Death Threats Over Pricing Changes

Unity has temporarily closed its offices in San Francisco and Austin, Texas and cancelled a town hall meeting after receiving death threats, according to Bloomberg, as reported by Engadget. Earlier this week, the company announced a contentious change to its business model.

“Today, we have been made aware of a potential threat to some of our offices. We have taken immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of our employees, which is our top priority,” a Unity spokesperson told Engadget. “We are closing our offices today and tomorrow that could be potential targets for this threat, and we are fully cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation.”

Kotaku noted that, as reported by Bloomberg’s Jason Schrier, Unity CEO John Riccitiello said that a scheduled September 14 company town hall meeting has been canceled, while both the Austin Texas and San Francisco, California offices will remain closed for the day. This is due to a “credible death threat” that was made against the tech company, though the nature of this potential violence hasn’t yet been detailed.

The Hill reported that Unity, a game engine that serves as the foundation to tens of thousands of video game projects, announced Wednesday that it will charge a developer 20 cents every time a game with their engine is downloaded starting Jan. 1. The change garnered massive criticism from developers and gamers who fear the fees could bankrupt small developers and make free-to-play titles unprofitable.

According to The Hill, Unity originally planned a town hall to discuss the pricing decision with employee Thursday morning. The two offices under threat – in Austin, Texas and San Francisco – were closed Thursday and will remain closed, the company said, according to Bloomberg.

The Hill also reported that rival game software company Epic Games, developer of the Unreal Engine, only charges similar fees for projects that make more than $1 million in total revenue – exempting the smallest hobbyists and games entrepreneurs. Both software programs are free to use and feature assets and tools that can be purchased.

Some developers have already announced that they may avoid using the Unity engine in the future and opt for the company’s rivals, even if their games are not levied with fees.

The Verge reported that Unity CEO John Riccitiello himself became a central figure of the controversy over the pay-per-install pricing scheme, as some see him as the driving force behind the new model. He was the CEO of Electronic Arts when the controversial loot box monetization was added to FIFA 09.

According to The Verge, Unity has tweeted some clarifications about the new pricing structure and walked back several unpopular tenets. Developers will no longer be charged for demos or game re-installs but will be charged for installs on multiple devices. There will also be programs in place to protect against fraud or malicious activity, and games included in charity bundles will not be subject to fees.

I can understand why someone would be upset about newly-created pricing charges. That said, sending a death threat to someone is always going to be the wrong choice to make.