After a large backlash from games studios, video game developers, and gaming enthusiasts, Unity appears to be having a serious rethink regarding its recently announced runtime fee plans. The game engine firm’s official Twitter/X account begins with an appeal for calm among anguished parties, continues with an apology, and ends with the news that changes are afoot. Importantly, the runtime fee policy is going to be updated again, with details shared “in a couple of days.”
We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of…September 17, 2023
Unity poked a wasps’ nest last Tuesday when it presented its new runtime fee policy to users of its popular video games development engine. As Unity is seemingly having some issues with profitability, the central idea in the new policy was to charge games publishers as much as $0.20 per game install. The fees policy was set to be enacted from January 1, 2024.
Today we are seeing the first signs of a Unity U-turn on the despised new runtime fee policy. It remains to be seen how big a change is coming. It is promising that Unity says “We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy.” Nevertheless, we could just be reading some soothing marketing doublespeak – the proof of substance behind a sincere apology will arrive in the coming days.
New fees are never going to be popular, but Unity’s intention to charge every time a customer’s game was installed by an end-user precipitated vocal fury, and even death threats. Concerns weren’t just about the new fees, but on how the policy was implemented out of the blue, causing developers big and small to withdraw their trust from the platform.
There were also concerns about how the new install fee would be triggered by Unity. Questions swirled regarding fees arising from re-installs on new / different devices, pirated copy installs, game stream services, and more.
Some of the most outspoken critics of the new runtime fee policy included: the studios behind Among Us, Games Awards host Geoff Keighley, and the creator of Garry's Mod. Moreover, several previous Unity devotees threatened to delay or abandon current Unity projects, and / or to change to a different games engine like Epic’s Unreal Engine.
Unity tried to take the heat out of the debate last Thursday, when it stressed that most users wouldn’t be affected by the new runtime fee policy. It asserted that install fees would not be levied on charity games, most demos, and would only start to kick-in on the most successful games with 200,000+ installs and $200,000 in lifetime revenue. Only 10% of Unity engine users would see any of the new fees, it stated.