Unity Introduces New Policy, Forcing Indies to Pay Per Install

If you didn’t know, Unity is a game engine in which many iconic indie games were made, namely Outer Wilds, Cult of the Lamb, Ultrakill, Iron Lung, Among Us, and many others.

This is due to its relative accessibility and its free version; however, that freedom to create might not last for long, as Unity has decided to add a system that charges devs for each install of their game.

This was announced in a press release on September 12th, and the change will go into effect on January 1st, 2024. This new policy has angered devs from all over the scene, from the more minor indie hits to the biggest Triple-A titles that all utilized Unity.

This change affects not only games already making a ton of money but even games released for free.

Breaking Down The New Unity Policy

No one really knows precisely what any of this means. Unity has deliberately avoided being incredibly transparent about these things.

When questioned about factors such as Piracy affecting this, they give a vague “we’ll detect fraud and it won’t count” response. Two tweets are attempting to explain it, but neither clarify much. I can only offer my own interpretation, as no one knows the specifics.

Firstly, Unity Plus is being discontinued. This was the prime way for Indie devs who couldn’t afford Unity Pro, and it offered some of the deluxe features of the paid versions of Unity at a fraction of the price.

New Unity Engine Install Fees Upsets Game Developer Community | Beebom

On top of this, Unity will not have to be online at all times, checking weekly for an internet connection, meaning working on a laptop will be more difficult.

Installs are counted as net new installs on any device, meaning if someone installs a game twice on the same computer, that’s one install, but if they install it on their computer, phone, and console, that’s three installs.

Trials, demos, and web-streamed games won’t count as installs, but early access and free games will count as installs.

https://x.com/DaniDevYT/status/1701650631948214393?s=20

Every install will cause a $0.20 charge to any developer who uses Unity Personal or the soon-to-be discontinued Unity Plus; Youtuber and Developer DaniDev showcases how flawed this is in a tweet where he calculates he would have to pay Unity $5,200,000 had he gotten the downloads the free games he’s made after January 2024.

This policy seems primarily targeted towards games like Genshin Impact or Unity games on services like Xbox Game Pass, but it hurts everyone.

If you want to know that they had confidence this would not go over well, the CEO of Unity, John Riccitiello, just sold 2000 shares in the company and has been selling them constantly while in charge.

How Will This Affect Unity Games?

At this point, game devs on Unity have only a few options. Unity games that are older and not receiving significant new content updates will probably be unaffected.

Still, more recent and unreleased Unity titles may get removed from storefronts since some devs can’t risk people installing their game and potentially losing tons of money.

https://x.com/DUSKdev/status/1702006508202913932?s=20

Many devs working on Unity games have now immediately jumped ship to an engine called Godot. It’s what Cassette Beasts was made in, and it functions surprisingly similarly while being completely free and open-source.

One of these devs is Iron Lung and Dusk creator David Szymanski, who has praised the engine for its ease of use since switching due to the Unity changes.

Overall, if you’re a budding game dev, it might be a good idea to steer clear of Unity until this policy gets reverted or dramatically toned down. Engines like Godot or Unreal Engine are good alternatives, and there are plenty of tutorials on switching from Unity to one of those if you’re looking for it.

If you’re just a fan of Unity games, I’d say don’t worry too much, as most devs keep their games up and switch to a new engine.

Further Reading

If you’re looking for more content on some of the games mentioned in this article and want to keep up to date on where their devs go in the future, stick right here for more.

Best Among Us Mods Worth Trying

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

Cult of the Lamb X Don’t Starve Collaboration Incoming

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