In a recent announcement, Unity has unveiled a new method for calculating fees for the usage of their game engine, causing quite a stir among game developers. Unity Engine consists of two parts: Unity Editor, used for game creation, and Unity Runtime, which is integrated into game files. The change involves Unity implementing a Unity Runtime Fee, which is charged when games meet two conditions: generating over $200,000 in revenue in the last 12 months and having over 200,000 installations.
If a game falls into this category, Unity will start charging developers at a rate of $0.20 per installation ($0.02 for games targeting emerging markets, including Thailand). Unity claims to have an accurate method of tracking installations, with the ability to identify any copyright infringements within the game (excluding those from the fee calculation). However, Unity has not disclosed the specifics of this tracking system.
If game developers are already subscribed to Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise, the fee structure will vary but the principles remain the same. Fees will only be charged when revenue exceeds $1 million and installations surpass 1 million. Additionally, discounted rates will apply for developers utilizing other services offered by Unity. These changes will come into effect on January 1, 2024.
This announcement has faced significant backlash from game developers, as it increases costs for independent and small-scale developers. Moreover, it has raised numerous questions surrounding Unity’s method of counting installations. For instance, Game Pass games with high player counts that do not generate direct game purchases, how will they be counted? How many sets will be considered when a game is purchased on Steam and then installed on three different PCs? Does a demo count as an installation? Unity has addressed some of these concerns in an FAQ, but some issues remain unexplained.
Some game developers have gone so far as to declare their intention to abandon Unity, delete their existing games, or drastically reduce game prices before removing them from various online stores on January 1, 2024.
TLDR: Unity has announced changes to their pricing model, introducing a Unity Runtime Fee based on the number of game installations and revenue generated. These changes have sparked backlash and confusion within the game development community, leading some developers to consider leaving Unity or take drastic measures before the new fees take effect in 2024.