Game developers are angry about Unity’s new installation-based fees

Game engine Unity has announced that it will begin charging developers a fee every time a user installs its game. This is true even if someone just installs games they already own on a new computer. The developers are understandably angry.

Unity revealed its wildly unpopular policy change in a blog post on Tuesday, immediately sparking widespread anger, confusion and disbelief in the game development community. Starting January 1, Unity Technologies will charge developers a Unity term fee for all games built with Unity as long as they have met both a minimum revenue threshold and a minimum lifetime install count in the last year.


Mars First Logistics is a physics simulator game that made me appreciate my thumbs

Currently, term fee thresholds start at $200,000 in revenue and 200,000 lifetime game installs, depending on which version of Unity is used. Fees are calculated based on the number of installs above the threshold, with developers charged up to $0.20 per install.

That might not sound like much. But it could well be enough to destroy numerous game studios. Countless games have been created with Unity, including titles like Genshin Impact, Among us, Cult of the Lamb, excavator, Kerbal space program, The pale beyond, Volcano Princess, Mars First Logistics, Beat Saber, Cup headand myself Marvel Snap only make up a fraction of it.

“We chose this because every time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed,” Unity wrote in its blog post. “Furthermore, we believe that an initial install-based fee, as opposed to a revenue share, allows developers to retain ongoing financial profits from player engagement.”

Why are game developers upset about Unity’s new fees?

Unfortunately, a revenue share model would have been much better received than this new installation fee. Countless developers have been quick to point out a variety of issues with Unity’s new policy, including its impact on demos, refunds, subscription services like Xbox Game Pass, free games, and participation in charity packs. The installation of pirated copies is not even mentioned.

Unity has responded to some of these concerns, but the responses have been less than satisfactory. The company initially confirmed that if a user deletes a game and reinstalls it on the same computer, the developer will be charged for each installation. After intense backlash, the company has since backtracked, telling Axios that developers will only be charged once in such a scenario.

However, developers are still charged multiple fees when users install the same game on another device. Developers are also charged to install demos unless it is just a single level, which cannot be upgraded to the full game.

Fortunately, subscription gaming services do not incur any costs for developers to install. Unity told Axios that it would instead charge retailers fees, leaving Microsoft to foot the installation bill for all games in Xbox Game Pass. In addition, there should be games included in charity packages exempt from the fee, using Unity to give developers a way to let them know when their game is in a. However, it is unclear how the company will determine which installs come from charity packages and which do not.

Unity also doesn’t have a concrete answer as to how its install-based fee system will work on software piracy, essentially saying it still needs to figure that part out.

“We already have fraud detection techniques in our advertising technology that solve a similar problem, so we will use that expertise as a starting point.” Unity wrote on his official X/Twitter account. “We recognize that users will have concerns about this and we will provide a process for them to escalate their concerns to our fraud compliance team.”

All of this is bad enough, but it gets even worse. Developers have also pointed out that Unity has essentially invented a new form of brigading: Install bombing. If enough disgruntled users band together to repeatedly delete and install a game, it could potentially bankrupt a studio, with smaller, marginalized developers particularly vulnerable to such tactics.

The company’s initial reaction to this was identical to his response to concerns about piracy. The company has since changed its tune, telling Axios that it hopes to address this issue by changing its policy to only charge once per machine.

This is how Unity calculates the installation numbers

There is also the question of how Unity even records installation numbers. When asked by developers, Unity declined to provide transparency about its install data. Therefore, the company could simply release any number and developers would simply have to pay without having the opportunity to verify that Unity is working.

“​​We use our own proprietary data model. So you understand that we don’t go into too much detail, but we believe that it allows for an accurate determination of the frequency with which the term is distributed for a given project.” Unity wrote.

“Well, no, we can’t really value that because you’re going to charge us for it, so we need transparency in that data.” replied developer Kalin Houston of Funktronic Labs. “There is a big gap between ‘believing it is correct’ and a detailed account.”

The new fee structure doesn’t apply to developers who use Unity for movies, education, or, strangely, gambling. Only Unity’s game developers lose out. The introduction of the Unity term fee is also particularly interesting considering that Unity CEO John S. Riccitiello just sold 2,000 shares on September 6, less than a week before the announcement. That has led some to speculate that the company knew full well how upset this move would cause them, but did it anyway.

In fact, Unity’s new fee is being derided so much that many game developers are publicly considering switching to a different game engine entirely. Given the years of experience and training many have invested in Unity, it wouldn’t be an easy decision.

Nevertheless, at this point in time it can only be a matter of reducing losses. With this announcement, Unity has shown developers that it is no longer a safe game engine to rely on – and that there is still a lot of work ahead of them to regain their trust.

Chrissy Callahan

Chrissy Callahan is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Chrissy Callahan joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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