Unity Runtime Fee: Unity, the cross-platform game engine maker, recently sparked controversy within the developer community. The company announced a plan to impose a “Runtime Fee” on developers based on the number of installations and revenue. However, the backlash was so severe that Unity quickly backtracked, promising to revise the proposed fee.
The Unity Runtime Fee, first proposed on September 12th, would apply to any project generating $200,000 in a 12-month period or reaching 200,000 lifetime game installs for those subscribed to the more affordable engine subscription plans. For companies subscribed to the pricier Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise plans, the thresholds were set at $1 million in revenue or 1 million lifetime installs. Unity’s announcement was met with widespread criticism from developers, leading the company to issue an apology via Twitter.
The company acknowledged the “confusion and angst” caused by its plan and promised to share an updated proposal soon. The original plan would have required developers subscribed to the cheaper Unity Personal or Unity Plus plans to pay $0.20 for every game installed beyond the threshold. Larger companies would have been charged between $0.02 and $0.125 per install.
Facepunch Studios & Backlash
This would have significantly impacted developers like Garry Newman of Facepunch Studios, who estimated that his studio would owe Unity $410,000 based on the number of installs. The plan was so contentious that many developers publicly urged their peers to cancel their Unity subscriptions and switch to a different engine. Mega Crit, the developers behind Slay the Spire, threatened to switch engines unless Unity completely reversed its changes and implemented protections in its Terms of Service.
Adding fuel to the fire, reports surfaced that Unity executives, including CEO John Riccitiello, had sold thousands of shares of stock ahead of the fee announcement. Riccitiello alone reportedly sold over 50,000 shares in 2023. Following the announcement, Unity’s stock price plummeted, although it did recover slightly the next day.
The company also received multiple death threats, prompting it to close two offices in Austin, Texas, and San Francisco, California. As of now, Unity has not specified what changes it plans to make to its fee structure. However, for many developers, the trust has already been broken. Newman, for instance, stated on his company’s blog that any sequel to Rust won’t be running on Unity, highlighting the lasting impact of Unity’s controversial decision.
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