It has been almost two weeks since Unity Technologies announced that it wanted to introduce a new payment model, the so-called runtime fee, for all customers of the Unity game engine from January 1, 2024, which should be based on the number of installations of the respective games. which have been developed with the help of the engine and will be developed in the future.
After an immense shitstorm, mainly from the indie scene and far-reaching calls for a boycott from the developer and gaming industry, in addition to the game association, the European association of game developers EGDF also came onto the scene and announced an examination by submitting it to the EU Commission possible intervention by the European competition authorities. According to a report on GamesWirtschaft.de, there was even talk of a market failure, as Unity serves as the basis for over 750,000 games from around 230,000 developers and thus represents a quasi-industry standard. Game designers and programmers are also mainly trained on Unity. game managing director Felix Falk said:
Such a high level of market penetration also entails a particularly great responsibility, which should be reflected, among other things, in a fair and balanced pricing model.
At the same time, there were several serious death threats against Unity employees and board members, so that two of the software manufacturer’s offices had to be temporarily closed. Of course, there were also numerous civilized forms of protest, such as the development studio Massive Monster, which announced its successful indie game Cult of the Lamb to be deleted from all platforms from January 1st, 2024 and no longer offered for sale. Even a significant number of Unity employees expressed criticism of the planned change in terms and conditions and announced resistance. Announced stock sales by Unity CEO John Riccitiello and two of its board members shortly before the surprising bad news on the Unity blog increased the criticism of the far-reaching project.
All of this now seems to have caused Unity to rethink, because Unity Create President Marc Whitten was at pains to explain the company’s 180-degree turnaround yesterday and apologize to all Unity customers and the community. The runtime fee, as it was originally intended, is off the table for all Unity Personal licensees. The sales limit of 100,000 US dollars should even be increased to 200,000 US dollars. The “Made with Unity” screen should also no longer be mandatory. Furthermore, Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise customers with sales of $1 million or more should be able to choose between a fee and a sales share of 2.5 percent. The calculations should be based on the developer’s own information about the number of users and the lower amount should be paid.
However, the runtime fee is not off the table, it should no longer apply retroactively or for ongoing projects and current Unity engine versions, but only for customers who want to use a new version of the engine that will be available on the market from 2024 or later will come – provided your product exceeds a certain sales threshold. Whitten regretted the “unfortunate process”, poor communication and failure to collect feedback from the community before announcing the new terms and conditions.
According to some industry insiders, such great damage has already been caused by a loss of trust that a reorientation of the developer landscape, especially in the indie sector, can no longer be stopped. Small, independent and freely available open source engines, alongside the top dog Unreal Engine, are increasingly becoming the focus of not only smaller studios. We had just reported on the positive development in the financing of the free Godot game engine, which represents the changes in the indie developer scene and ultimately the entire industry.