Unity says sorry after supposed runtime fee price plan backlash

Unity, a prominent video game engine maker, has issued an apology in response to the backlash it faced over its proposed new pricing plan. The company initially planned to charge game studios each time a game developed with its engine was installed.

This pricing model drew strong criticism, with indie game studios responsible for hits like Among Us, Slay the Spire, and Cult of the Lamb expressing their intention to abandon Unity’s engine in protest.

An engine is a set of tools that handles various aspects of game development, such as animation and audio, providing the foundational framework for a game. While it’s possible to create a game engine from scratch, it’s a complex task, so many companies opt for ready-made solutions to save time. Unity, alongside Epic’s Unreal Engine, is one of the most commonly used game engines, popular among both smaller studios and mega-hits like Pokemon Go and Genshin Impact.

Initially, Unity announced that it would charge its customers a fee each time someone installed a game based on its engine. This fee would only apply once a game reached a certain number of downloads but could be as high as $0.20 (£0.16) at the highest level. This announcement generated swift and negative reactions throughout the gaming industry, with some studios considering switching to different engines, even if it meant potential delays in releasing new games.

Critics likened Unity’s proposed fee to Adobe charging Photoshop users per image view. Developers were also concerned about being charged for installations of pirated copies and the potential impact of being featured on subscription services like Microsoft Game Pass.

In response to the backlash, Unity issued a statement attempting to clarify certain aspects of the new fee structure. However, this statement was also met with criticism, prompting Unity to issue a further apology for the “confusion and angst” it had caused. The company pledged to make changes to its policy and promised to provide an update in the coming days.

Several independent developers, including Innersloth (Among Us), Mega Crit (Slay the Spire), Aggro Crab (Going Under), and Massive Monster (Cult of the Lamb), warned that they would switch to different engines if Unity persisted with its plan. They anticipated significant delays in their ongoing and future projects as a result.

Unity’s situation escalated when it had to close two of its offices due to “credible” death threats. The company also reportedly offered to waive the fee if developers signed up for its advertising program. It remains uncertain how Unity’s largest titles, such as Genshin Impact and Pokemon Go, will be affected by these changes.

Unity’s controversial pricing plan has sparked widespread debate within the gaming industry, with concerns over its potential impact on game development and the relationships between game studios and engine providers.



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