Unity, one of the most popular game engines in the world, has announced a new fee plan that will charge developers based on the number of installs their games receive. The plan, which will take effect on January 1, 2024, has sparked a backlash from indie game developers, who fear that it will hurt their profits and stifle their creativity.
What is the Unity Runtime Fee?
According to Unity’s blog post, the new fee plan is called the Unity Runtime Fee, and it is based on two factors: the annual revenue and the lifetime install count of a game built with the Unity engine. The fee will only apply to games that have reached both a minimum revenue threshold and a minimum install count, which vary depending on the subscription plan of the developer.
For example, developers who use Unity Personal or Unity Plus, which are the lower-cost plans, will have to pay $0.20 per install after their game has made $200,000 in the last 12 months and has at least 200,000 lifetime installs. Developers who use Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise, which are the higher-cost plans, will have to pay between $0.02 and $0.15 per install after their game has made $1 million in the last 12 months and has at least 1 million lifetime installs. Developers in emerging markets will have lower fees per install.
Unity says that the new fee plan is designed to let creators keep their ongoing financial gains from player engagement, and that it will not affect most of its developers, who are below the thresholds. Unity also says that it will use proprietary data models to track and determine how much developers owe, and that it will provide tools and reports for developers to monitor their fees.
Why are developers angry about the Unity Runtime Fee?
Many developers have expressed their dissatisfaction and frustration with the new fee plan on social media and forums. Some of the common complaints are:
- The fee plan is unfair and greedy, as it will take a large chunk of the revenue from successful games, especially those that rely on free-to-play or subscription models.
- The fee plan is unclear and confusing, as it does not address how it will handle different scenarios such as piracy, refunds, multiple devices, charity bundles, or subscription services like Xbox Game Pass or Apple Arcade.
- The fee plan is untrustworthy and opaque, as it relies on Unity’s own data models to calculate the fees, without giving developers access to the raw data or the ability to verify or dispute the results.
- The fee plan is discouraging and limiting, as it will make developers hesitant to use Unity for their games, or force them to switch to other engines or platforms that do not charge per install.
Some of the prominent developers who have voiced their concerns include Garry Newman of Facepunch Studios (Rust), Rami Ismail of Vlambeer (Nuclear Throne), Mike Bithell of Bithell Games (Thomas Was Alone), and Tim Sweeney of Epic Games (Unreal Engine).
How has Unity responded to the criticism?
Unity has tried to clarify some of the points and answer some of the questions raised by the developers on Twitter and its blog. However, many developers are still not satisfied with Unity’s explanations and assurances, and have demanded more transparency and details from the company.
Unity has also stated that it is open to feedback and suggestions from its community, and that it will continue to communicate with its developers as it finalizes its fee plan. Unity has also emphasized that it values its developers and their success, and that it is committed to providing them with the best tools and services for creating games.