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Unity backlash after pricing changes


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If you’ve been following the game industry over the last few days, you might have heard that Unity, the creators of the far-reaching game engine of the same name, have made a bit of a mess. A new scheme to start charging developers every time a Unity engine-based game gets installed on a PC or console has indeed united gamers, developers, and publishers…in condemnation of this boneheaded bit of naked profiteering.


Here’s the gist. Starting January 1st, 2024, all games that use the Unity engine will be charged 20 cents (USD) for each game installation, once it hits a threshold of 200,000 downloads and $200,000 in revenue. A lower charge and a higher starting threshold — $1 million in sales and a million installations — will be offered for higher tiers of Unity subscriptions, starting at around $2000 a year.


This is a stark change from Unity’s previous monetization system, which offered the engine and installation for free, then relied on more advanced software subscriptions, an integrated advertising platform (mostly mobile games, but some console and desktop stuff too), and paid analytical tools. While Unity has clarified some early misconceptions after the news broke, such as not charging for multiple installations of the same game from the same user and not charging for game demos, the new monetization makes Unity far less attractive to the indie game developers that were previously its bread and butter.


To put it plainly, many indies simply won’t be able to afford to publish games using Unity…and possibly won’t even be able to continue selling existing games that use the cross-platform engine. That’s because the new fees apply retroactively, taking in historical sales to calculate whether already-published games will be charged. Developers have taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to show how much the new policy might cost them. The makers of such games as Among Us, Cult of the Lamb, Vampire Survivors, and dozens more have all said that they’ll have to more or less completely abandon the platform if the change goes through as planned.




I suspect a reversal of this new policy is imminent based on the backlash. 



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