In a significant turnaround prompted by a wave of criticism from game developers, Unity, the game development engine giant, has announced revisions to its contentious plan to implement fees on game creators based on the number of downloads. The initial proposal sparked widespread backlash within the gaming community, leading Unity to reevaluate its strategy.
Originally, Unity’s plan involved charging game developers a fee each time a user installed a Unity game, starting in 2024, subject to specific project thresholds. However, in response to concerns raised by developers, Unity has decided to modify this approach. The revised policy will now only apply charges after a user’s initial installation of a game.
Unity’s rationale behind this adjustment is to prevent what they refer to as “install-bombing” – a scenario in which users repeatedly uninstall and reinstall a game to trigger multiple payments. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that if a user downloads the same game on multiple devices, Unity will still levy multiple charges.
Despite these changes, Unity continues to face criticism from the developer community, which largely views the payment structure as unfair. Many developers argue that even a single payment per installation remains an unjust burden.
Another concern voiced by developers relates to Unity’s fee structure potentially harming studios that have released their games through subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass, which aim to maximize downloads. In response to this concern, Unity has clarified that download fees will be the responsibility of the subscription service providers themselves, such as Microsoft in the case of Xbox Game Pass. As a result, this adjustment raises questions about how subscription services will manage these additional costs.
Unity’s modified approach has triggered mixed reactions within the developer community. Some developers, like Tomas Sala, the developer of Falconeer, have expressed skepticism about the new system, particularly for porting studios that work on behalf of others. They believe that this shift in responsibility for fees is not thoroughly considered.
In an interview with Axios, Unity spokesperson Marc Whitten estimated that only approximately 10 percent of developers using the engine would be affected by these changes. However, the backlash against Unity’s fee structure remains widespread and vocal.
Prominent indie developer Dan Marshall voiced his strong discontent, describing Unity’s move as “an absolute catastrophe.” He even declared his intention to switch to the Unreal Engine as soon as possible, underscoring the gravity of the issue within the game development community.
The ongoing debate surrounding Unity’s fee structure highlights the complex relationship between game developers and the tools they rely on, with concerns over fairness and sustainability taking center stage in the evolving landscape of game development.