Unity unites the indie game industry against its new pricing model

Unity, a company that makes a suite of video game development tools, has recently sparked a major controversy in the industry after announcing changes to its pricing model. Under the new model, Unity plans to charge developers on a per-install basis after certain revenue and game download thresholds are met.

Sentiment regarding the new pricing has been largely negative, with reports of death threats to the company as developers and video game professionals respond on social media with calls for Unity to reconsider since the changes could threaten the already thin profits of indie games. Developers are concerned that Unity has implemented these changes unilaterally, violating trust while offering virtually no time for developers to prepare for the potential costs. Many developers have spoken out against the change, urging Unity to retract the new model or risk indie developers porting their games to other engines.

Unity has offered some clarifications and retractions to the new pricing, but some developer concerns, like how Unity intends to track valid installations and separate them from exempted installations, remain unaddressed.

  • Image from Unity’s website featuring the company’s logo against a colorful background.

    Image from Unity’s website featuring the company’s logo against a colorful background.

    Earlier this week, Unity, the company that makes the Unity video game engine popular with indie developers, announced that it was changing its pricing model. The changes included a pricing scheme that sought to charge developers on a per-install basis for games that met specific download and revenue thresholds.

    Unity wanted to charge developers for game installs without seemingly taking into account the many reasons a game might be installed without being purchased. Unity’s new model could theoretically result in situations where developers would be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees without the revenue to pay for it.

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  • The Unity pricing debacle has taken an unfortunate, dangerous turn. In a new report from Bloomberg, the company has reportedly canceled a town hall meeting due to what the publication called credible death threats. According to Bloomberg, Unity CEO John Riccitiello was set to address employees Thursday morning, but the companywide meeting was canceled and two of Unity’s offices were closed because of the alleged threats.

    Earlier this week, Unity, makers of a video game engine popular among indie developers, announced that it was making changes to its pricing model. In addition to charging yearly subscription fees, Unity is planning to implement a pay-per-install pricing scheme, charging developers each time a game is installed on a device once that game has met specific download and revenue thresholds.

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  • “We have never made a public statement before. That is how badly you fucked up.”

    Mega Crit, developers of Slay the Spire — a rogue deckbuilder that has a permanent spot on my Steam Deck — has weighed in on the Unity situation with a clear, concise, and seemingly justified ultimatum. The quote is one for the ages, but the whole statement is great.

  • Image of Unity’s company logo.

    Image of Unity’s company logo.

    Popular video game engine Unity is making big changes to its pricing structure that’s causing confusion and anger among developers. On Tuesday, Unity announced that on January 1st, 2024, it would be implementing a pay-per-download pricing scheme that would charge developers a flat fee any time a game using Unity software is installed.

    “We are introducing a Unity Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end user,” the company shared on its blog. “We chose this because each time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed. Also we believe that an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains from player engagement, unlike a revenue share.”

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