Tag Archives: Unity

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.

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.