Unity Backtracks On Controversial Runtime Fee Policy

Just last Friday, Unity announced it was rolling back a few of the changes that it had previously stated, namely, the runtime fee that would have affected most games will no longer affect users on the free version of Unity, as well as the cap for it being heightened to $200,000.

This change doesn’t mean their lousy policy is gone; it’s just different.

Why game developers are revolting against Unity - Protocol

They addressed this in an open letter to the community, outlining absolutely everything about this policy and what they’re changing and directly asking for feedback.

I wouldn’t expect much from that feedback part since just looking through their Twitter replies shows that they mainly send stock responses to criticism, but it’s a step in the right direction, regardless.

How The Unity Policy Has Changed

Of the changes outlined, the most important is the Runtime Fee. This caused the big upset in the first place, namely that it would charge developers on every install of the game whenever they’d reached a specific downloads and revenue threshold.

It now only affects games made in the latest version of Unity with quite a few exemptions.

If you are using Unity Personal, you will be entirely exempt from the fee, and there will no longer be a “Made with Unity” splash screen at the start of the game, presumably to prevent dogpiling from still using Unity.

On top of that, the cap is now $200,000, and if the game has made less than $1,000,000 in a year, it won’t be subject to the fee either. This means most free or cheap games will go completely unaffected.

As for the games that still do hit the threshold, they can choose either 2.5% revenue share or the “amount engaging with the game each month,” which I assume just means monthly player count.

They will default to choosing whichever is lower. However, these numbers are self-reported by the developer, meaning the devs working with Unity have to go out of their way to lose money.

This has been the most controversial part of these changes, namely because 2.5% of revenue is already extra money lost, given they’ve already lost 12% on Epic Games Store, ~30% on Steam, and even more for porting to consoles.

Regardless, this is a step in the right direction, but many have already lost trust and faith in Unity and will not be using the platform.

The Ramifications of Unity’s Policies

We’ve already started seeing what has come of Unity’s policies, both breaking the trust of developers and putting some in a tricky spot where they might lose more money than they’d gain from releasing new games.

Namely, BallisticNG, a Wipeout-inspired racing game, has completely canceled its Switch port, only releasing on PC.

This is to provide the promised game in a reasonable timeframe but not force the developer to work with Unity for longer when this policy kicks in on January 1st. We might see more like this, not just ports of games canceled but entire games being removed or abandoned due to these policies.

In short, if you plan for your game to succeed, it’s in your best financial interest not to use Unity.

Further Reading

If you want to hear more about the Unity situation and if there are any more significant developments, as well as some great games made in Unity, then stick right here for more.

Unity Introduces New Policy, Forcing Indies to Pay Per Install

Unity Apologizes But Refuses to Roll Back their Policies

Outer Wilds Beginners Guide: How to Get Started in the Game

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