Ten days after Unity successfully enraged huge swathes of the development community by announcing sweeping, and wildly unpopular, changes to its Unity Engine business model, the company has said it’s “sorry” and walked back on significant aspects of its new pricing plan.
Last Tuesday, Unity announced that, as of 1st January 2024, developers would be expected to pay an additional monthly Unity Runtime Fee per new game install on top of their existing licence subscription after reaching certain revenue and life-time instalment thresholds. The backlash was immediate and intense, resulting in minor revisions to Unity’s initial plan.
Now though, Unity’s Marc Whitten has outlined significant changes to last week’s announcement in a post on the company’s website, beginning with another apology. “I want to start with this: I am sorry,” he wrote. “We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy. Our goal with this policy is to ensure we can continue to support you today and tomorrow, and keep deeply investing in our game engine.”
As for those policy changes, Unity has announced it will no longer be charging per-install Runtime fees for any developer using Unity Personal or Unity Plus (it’s also dropping the requirement that Unity Personal games must include the Unity start-up screen) – meaning changes will now only impact developers using Unity Pro or Enterprise, and only if they cross two key thresholds: making $1m USD in gross revenue “trailing 12 months” and reaching 1m “initial engagements”, presumably meaning installs.
Perhaps more significantly, its Runtime fees will now only kick in for games made using – or updated to – Unity’s next Long Term Support version that’ll be releasing in 2024 or beyond, meaning the new fees won’t impact games built in older versions of the engine. Unity adds that it’ll “make sure that you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using – as long as you keep using that version.”
Unity also notes that developers working with its new LTS version and passing the two key thresholds outlined above will now have a choice between paying a Runtime fee based on self-reported monthly initial engagements or the equivalent of 2.5% of a game’s self-reported monthly gross revenue. “Ultimately,” it says, “you will be charged the lesser of the two.”
It’s too early to clearly gauge the development community’s response to Unity’s revised terms, but it seems likely the company will have a significant uphill battle to regain the trust and goodwill it squandered over the course of a single announcement last week.