How Did Unity Manage to Ironically Unite Game Developers Against Itself?
Unity, a game engine that’s popular with both big and small game developers due to its versatility, recently ignited a firestorm within the gaming community with its new policy that has left many feeling disheartened. Going against their reputation as an accessible platform for game creation, they have introduced a runtime fee policy, charging developers each time a new player installs their game beyond a specific threshold. This decision has raised eyebrows and spurred an avalanche of criticism from developers across the industry and ganers alike. Let’s delve into the details of this contentious policy and its implications for the gaming world.
Unity’s Runtime Fee Policy
Unity’s runtime fee policy is a significant departure from its previous practices. Here’s what you need to know:
- Developers will be charged a fee when their game surpasses a specific benchmark for the number of installations.
- The fees, as clarified by on Twitter, will primarily apply to highly successful games.
- They are also raising the price for engine access for all users moving forward.
The trust in you is already lost, but how many more need to act before you undo your mistake ? | pic.twitter.com/LOIUrNhPmE
— Game Studios Disappointed By Unity (@FuckedByUnity) September 16, 2023
Unity’s runtime fee policy announcement triggered swift and severe backlash from the gaming community, for several reasons:
- Perceived Greed: Many gamers and developers have labeled the decision as “greedy” and inconsistent with the engine’s original mission to empower game creation on a budget.
- Impact on Small Developers: While Unity asserts that only around 10% of its user base will be affected, this percentage includes numerous smaller independent developers who may struggle to cope with these fees, potentially leading to financial strain and even bankruptcy.
- Studio Exodus: Some game studios have announced their intention to abandon the game engine altogether, planning to develop future projects in alternative engines. The sudden policy change without prior notice exacerbated their frustration.
Controversies Surrounding Unity
The situation became even more heated due to other controversies that happened prior to the introduction of runtime fees:
- Investments in Adware: Allegations of investments in adware companies raised questions about the company’s ethical stance.
- Previous AI Endorsement: Their previous endorsement of AI technologies also stirred controversy within the gaming industry.
- Retroactive Tracking Concerns: The revelation that they can retroactively track user installs for a developer’s game has fueled concerns that the company may inflate install numbers to increase payouts, casting doubt on their credibility.
Unity’s Response and Consequences
We want to acknowledge the confusion and frustration we heard after we announced our new runtime fee policy. We’d like to clarify some of your top questions and concerns:
Who is impacted by this price increase: The price increase is very targeted. In fact, more than 90% of our…
— Unity (@unity) September 13, 2023
Official statements / responses were made to address community concerns through Twitter, but it failed to quell the outrage. Instead, it raised further questions about the company’s intentions. The situation escalated to the extent that some of their offices received death threats, leading to temporary closures and employee resignations for obvious safety reasons.
Impact on Developers
The fallout from Unity’s policy extends beyond smaller developers, affecting larger companies as well. For example, Niantic and Nintendo, creators of Pokémon GO, developed the game using Unity and may be subject to fees for future installs.
Many developers have shared strategies to counteract or bypass the fees. Some propose releasing multiple identical versions of future games, akin to Pokémon’s side-by-side releases. Others advocate for transitioning to a competitor, Godot, which has gained popularity due to successful games on Steam.
With the company’s stock prices already on the decline and external investors entering its board of directors, coupled with developers abandoning the engine, there are concerns that they may face economic turmoil and potentially even bankruptcy.
Unity’s decision to implement a runtime fee policy has sent shockwaves through the gaming community. What was once a go-to engine for indie developers is now facing uncertainty. As the industry leans heavily on indie developers to bring fresh ideas and creativity to the forefront, their policy changes have created an unexpected barrier to entry. The fallout from these changes raises critical questions about their future and its role in the ever-evolving landscape of game development.
Pokdepinion: I haven’t seen such a big backlash since the Activision Blizzard lawsuit a couple of years back. The sheer amount of boycotting among other things made me wonder if the people running the company were aware of how bad their move could be. Did they really think they could just earn more money and people wouldn’t bat an eye?