Unity Technologies, the company behind the Unity game engine, recently announced major changes in its usage rates, causing anger and concern among developers around the world. Starting January 1, 2024, Unity will impose an entirely new Unity Runtime Fee based on the number of game installations, marking a radical shift in its business model.
Until now, Unity had a relatively simple approach: developers earning less than $100.000 per year could use the platform for free. Beyond this threshold, they had to subscribe to Unity Plus licenses, at a cost of $399 per year per seat. And for those with incomes above $200 annually, the option was Unity Pro, with a cost of $000 per year per seat. These licenses also offered additional features, such as customizing the loading screen to remove the Unity logo.
However, the new pricing policy announced by Unity is a complete upheaval of this model. From now on, games generating more than $200.000 per year and having been installed more than 200.000 times will be subject to a Unity Runtime Fee of 20 cents per installation. The Unity Plus license will be removed. For those who opt for the Unity Pro license, each install after the millionth will be charged at 15 cents, provided the game makes $1 million per year. The move took many developers by surprise, leaving them perplexed about the potential financial impact, particularly for free-to-play games that have many players, but few payers.
Developers are already exploring alternatives and it is Epic Games' Unreal Engine that is rubbing its hands. Epic Games recalled that its engine is completely free for the first millionaires, taking only 5% royalties beyond that.
Overall, this move by Unity Technologies has created unwanted and complex chaos for developers. The long-term consequences of this decision for the video game industry remain unclear, but one thing is clear: Unity has sowed discord among its own creators and risks losing many talents to its competitors.