Unity Apologizes, Walks Back Fee Changes After Game Developer Backlash

Game engine maker Unity has substantially revised its controversial Unity Runtime Fee policies announced last week after game developers created an uproar of anger and frustration on social media. 

In a blog post published Friday, Unity Create President Marc Whitten apologized for not taking more developer feedback into account before establishing the new runtime fee model, which charges developers on a per-install basis once they hit certain revenue thresholds.

The fees as first announced scared many smaller developers, who wondered if it was still possible to remain profitable under the new model.

Whitten shared that the runtime fees have been modified so that developers using Unity Personal do not have to pay the fee at all. Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise developers will only accrue the runtime fee if they install the 2024 long term support (LTS) version of Unity. Games built on current or older versions will not accrue the fee.

For developers who choose to use the 2024 version of Unity, they’ll be able to choose between a 2.5% revenue share or an install-based fee calculation. Whitten promised that developers will “always be billed the lesser amount” and said that the fees will be calculated based on “self-reported” developer data.

WB Games writer Mitch Dyer called the news a “solid change” on Twitter, but hinted that Unity could invoke similar changes again in the future. 

“It feels like they’re putting the rug back in place and hoping you just stay standing on it until the next time they give it a pull,” Dyer said.

Indie developer Rebekah Saltsman, CEO and co-founder at game studio Finji, pointed out that console devs aren’t able to choose which version of Unity their games launch on because it’s the platform—not the developer—who gets to decide.

“We don’t get to control the engine version we ship on,” Saltsman tweeted in response to Unity’s update. “Kinda curious why you think we do.”

Rival game engine Godot saw a spike in Google Search interest the day Unity’s runtime fee was announced. In response to the updated fee policy, Godot creator Juan Linietsky applauded Unity for retracting the runtime fees for current and older versions.

But Linietsky argued that using Unity still poses “massive risk” for developers. Those who use multiple Unity products can get discounts on the runtime fees, which Godot’s founder called an “abuse of dominant position.”

“Their changes are great for the indie users, but [it’s a] massive fuck you to any company providing products and services over the Unity engine that compete with Unity’s own ones,” Linietsky said.

Unity did not immediately respond to Decrypt’s request for comment.

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