Unity's New Fees Have Indie Devs Up in Arms

Unity is alienating their best customers with a brand new fee structure.

Unity recently announced changes in its pricing structure and fees for developers.

“Effective January 1, 2024, we will introduce a new Unity Runtime Fee that’s based on game installs,” Unity’s most recent blogpost stated. Every time that a game is downloaded, there will be a fee associated with it. Unity emphasized that this fee only applies to games with over 200,000 unique downloads or has made over $1,000,000 in revenue.

The fee also applies to games that are currently on the market and continue to distribute the runtime. This allows Unity to retroactively charge developers new fees, even if they started using Unity and released their game under the previous terms of service.

“We believe that an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains from player engagement, unlike a revenue share,” the blog post continued. In addition to the fee, Unity promised tools provided without extra charge, including asset storage and AI functionality. But despite these assurances, there has been a major backlash from developers. One major complaint lobbied against the move by Unity is that it doesn’t address the now urgent threat of piracy, which would inflate download numbers without generating any additional revenue for the game studio. Another complaint is that trolls could theoretically download and redownload copies of games of targeted studios as a form of harassment which could leave creators footing the bill. Innersloth, creator of Among Us, said it would rather move its smash hit to a new engine, which would unfortunately "delay content and features our players actually want."

In an unprecedented statement made on X (formally Twitter), Slay the Spire creator Mega Crit admitted that they would be forced to move their currently in-development title to a brand new engine. This move will take an “immense amount of time and effort” for a game already 2+ years in its development, with Mega Crit demanding the changes to the TOS “completely reverted” and “protections” put in place.

“We seriously question whether we can trust Unity moving forward,” admitted No Brakes Games, makers of Human Fall Flat and the upcoming Human Fall Flat 2.

“Prioritize your customers and players over corporate greed,” they continued in an open letter to Unity.

Massive Monster, creators of Cult of the Lamb, addressed their fans with a warning that the “introduction of these fees by Unity could pose significant challenges for aspiring developers.”

Indeed, a move like this has the chance of becoming completely toxic down the road for Unity, as new and hobbyist developers alike would avoid learning an engine connected to a predatory fee structure that would make it harder for indie devs to make money from their projects.

On X, user incontinentcell made a chart to further illustrate the amount of money Unity is hoping to ply from studios using their new fees:

Some have insisted this is a way to force studios to incorporate Unity Ads into their games, which is an ad service created by Unity for native ad support within their engine.

Epic Games, creator of the popular Unreal Engine, seems to be addressing this controversy in another way – marketing their engine for developers interested in native integration for the Vision Pro, Apple’s forthcoming mixed-realty headset system.

Game engines such as Godot have also garnered interest since Unity’s announcement.

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