In a frankly baffling move, Unity has revealed plans to charge game developers using the Unity Game Engine every time someone installs one of their games. Across every single platforms, mobile, console, PC and more, Unity games will track installs to charge game makers.
Via GamesIndustry, Unity announced its plans to incorporate a new “RunTime Fee” feature for every game using the latest version of its game engine. This fee will kick in as developers pass a certain number of installs over time.
Game developers using Unity Personal or Unity Plus licenses won’t have to pay a penny until they hit a certain threshold. Devs will have to hit a total of 200,000 installs over 12 months, or bring in a revenue of $200,000, to be charged.
This threshold is larger for those on the more expensive tiers of the game engine. Pro and Enterprise users will have to hit 1 million installs, or $1 million in revenue, before they are charged.
As for how game developers will be charged, the Unity Runtime Fee will be sent in the form on a monthly fee charging per install. Unity game developers using the Personal and Plus licenses will have to pay $0.20 per install. This means if an indie game has 1 million installs, they must pay Unity $200,000. Enterprise users have a lower $0.125 fee.
Most concerning is the fact that the Unity Runtime Fee also applies to free games using the game engine. If a game is entirely free with no ways to pay the developer, it still abides by the terms of the Runtime Fee.
Unity claims that free game devs will have the option of including will kts LevelPlay advertising service or other Unity services as a way of offsetting the cost of users playing their games. The company believes this is a way for Unity to “better balance the value exchange” between engine creators and game developers.
It’s worth noting that the Unity Game Engine has not been exceedingly popular as of late. While indie devs have flocked to the engine for its high versatility, the majority of major AAA releases have adopted Unreal Engine 5 to create new titles. In fact, even studios with a long history of in-house engines, such as Cyberpunk developer CD Projekt RED, have abandoned their own tools to use Unreal 5.
The decision to charge game devs comes after numerous controversies at the game engine company. Alongside financial issues, the game engine studio has worked on numerous uncomfortable military contracts that some employees didn’t even know they were working on.
Unity still has its place in game development, specifically indie PC games and VR titles, but its plans to charge developers per install will likely turn even more away from the technology.