Game engine creator Unity is under fire for egregious changes to its pricing model. After years of being a go-to engine for indie game developers, Unity has decided to charge devs every time someone installs their game, even if said game is free.
The Unity pricing change has caused mass fear and confusion between indie developers with many revealing plans to abandon the engine or even kill their projects entirely. With the new pricing model, some devs creating free experiences will be in debt to the engine company, and even successful developers will have to pay Unity years after their game stops selling as fans reinstall on new hardware.
While Unity’s decision to introduce this new pricing structure is frankly mind boggling, it’s not too surprising when you look into the history of its CEO: John Riccitiello. Previously an EA CEO, Riccitiello was a major player behind the expansion of microtransactions in video games, and had some quite ludicrous ideas.
Unity CEO John Riccitiello once tried to make gamers pay for every bullet they would fire in an FPS game. During a 2011 stockholder meeting, the ex-EA CEO tried to introduce paid gun magazines in games such as Battlefield during the heat of gameplay.
“When you are six hours into playing Battlefield and you run out of ammo in your clip and we ask you for a dollar to reload, you’re really not that price sensitive at that point in time,” the CEO said.
At a time when EA was pushing to be a “100 percent digital only publisher” under Riccitiello’s leadership, the CEO claimed that paying per bullet was great for the future of gaming.
“It’s a great model and it represents a substantially better future for the industry,” Riccitiello said.
Last year, the Unity CEO made headlines again for not understanding why game developers make games with zero monetisation. The executive claimed that developers not taking full advantage of monetisation were “f**king idiots”.
Riccitiello’s history as a villain of the games industry has even been shared in developers’ work. Infamously, Suda51’s brilliant No More Heroes series has the Unity CEO as a villain across both Travis Strikes Again and No More Heroes III in the form of Utopinia CEO Damon Riccitiello.
Inspired by Suda51’s experiences working with the real Riccitiello for the EA-published game Shadows of the Dammed, the fictional parody of the CEO is a ruthless business mogul drunk on power.
At the time of writing, Unity has yet to go back on its plans to charge game developers per install of their games. A number of developers are still fighting against the game engine company, revealing plans to move to Unreal Engine or Godot to avoid paying additional fees long into the future.