March 2, 2024

Unity Apologizes and Revises Runtime Install Fees After Outcry

In a dramatic reversal, Unity, the renowned game engine maker, has issued a public apology and amended its controversial plan to impose fees on developers based on the number of game downloads installed.

The company’s decision to backtrack its decision comes after a wave of outcry from the Unity community, which includes popular games like Hearthstone, Pokemon Go, Cuphead, and Hollow Knight.

I am sorry. We should have spoken with more of you, and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy.Marc Whitten, head of Unity’s Create group

The root of the controversy lies with Unity trying to bolster its financial stature. The new fee structure announced by the company on September 12 essentially charged royalties from game developers based on installations of their qualifying titles. The company’s stock price plunged to under $32 from $39.

The outrage stemmed from the fact that Unity had earlier promised in 2019 to charge “a flat fee per seat – not a royalty on all revenue” from developers. However, the newly introduced runtime fee based on per installation directly contradicted this commitment.

The Unity community has reacted to this decision, resulting in a severe backlash so intense that the company had to temporarily close its offices due to alleged threats.

The Proposed Plan For Developers On Unity

The revised pricing plan, as announced by Unity, identified the games that would be subject to runtime install fees starting from January 1, 2024. The broad categories include Unity Personal and Unity Plus, which include games making at least $200,000 in the last year and having a minimum of 200,000 lifetime installs.

The ex-CEO and co-founder of Unity, David Helgason, admitted their mistakes and acknowledged that the new business model wasn’t communicated properly.

On the other hand, Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise include games making at least $1,000,000 in the last year and having a minimum of 200,000 lifetime installs. Although the actual fee varied, it could reach as high as $0.20 per installation.

Unity tried to calm the situation by promising not to charge royalties for reinstalls or fraudulent installs. The fee would be applicable only to new installs from January.

What concerned developers the most was the potential abuse, including the reinstallation of games repeatedly or pirating games to inflict financial loss on developers. Unity also witnessed frustration and confusion among developers due to the lack of proper communication.

Unity’s Revised Pricing Plan After The Outcry

Based on the revised policy as declared by Marc Whitten, the Unity Personal plan continues to be free, with no Runtime Fee for games built on Unity Personal.

For the Personal plan, the annual revenue and funding limit has been increased from $100,000 to $200,000.

The ‘Made with Unity’ splash screen also needs to be removed as per the revised provisions. Games with less than $1 million in trailing 12-month revenue have been exempted from the fee.

Besides, the Runtime Fee is applicable to games created with or upgraded to the Long Term Support (LTS) version of Unity that will be released in 2024. The existing terms and conditions would be applicable to older software.

Unity developers will have the option to choose the lesser of the two revenue-sharing options for games subject to the runtime fee based on self-reporting figures. They can either pay 2.5% of revenue or an amount calculated on the number of new players each month.

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