Last week, Unity dropped a bombshell on developers with a new runtime fee on its game engine that would be charged every time a title was installed, which one developer summarized as an “abysmally catastrophic decision.” Now, the company appears to be backtracking and promising policy changes that will be revealed shortly.
“We’ve heard you. We apologize for the confusion and distress caused by the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday,” the company said in a publish in X. “We are listening, talking to our team members, the community, customers and partners, and will make changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.”
We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and distress caused by the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday. We are listening, talking to our team members, the community, customers and partners, and will make policy changes. We’ll share an update in a couple of…
– Unity (@unity) September 17, 2023
News of the fee structure created a furor in the developer community, which quickly closed ranks against Unity. “We’ve never made a public statement before. That’s how bad you screwed up.” wrote Kill the needle Developer Metacritic. “There’s no way Unity talked to a single developer before releasing this,” added Rami Ismail. In protest, many developers disabled Unity ads, and others were considering filing a class-action lawsuit.
Unity announced the changes after a tough couple of years in which an Apple privacy change cut off much of its advertising revenue. Last year, the company’s stock price plummeted and it initiated layoffs that affected 8 percent of its staff, or 600 employees. There has also been controversy surrounding CEO John Riccitiello after he called game creators who don’t consider monetization “damn idiots.”
After the initial uproar, Unity attempted to clarify its policies, saying it would only charge for initial installations, that charities would be exempt, and that demos would not count. Owners of subscription services would have to pay the fee, not developers.
However, some developers who committed to Unity and its previous pricing structure have said they are still effectively screwed. “I put years and years of work into my portfolio. I did it with a simple per-seat license that I’m happy to pay. Now, when I’m close to launch, they offer me something new. It’s not a price increase. [but] a fundamental change in the way we do business together. I have no options, I can’t go back, I can only bend and [pay up]”,” wrote The falconer Developer Tomás Sala.
It remains to be seen whether Unity’s changes will appease developers. “Be honest, direct and trustworthy. We need stability,” one developer wrote in response to the company’s post.