A developer uses Unity to create his game. Photo: Unity

On Sep. 12, the game development engine, Unity Software, released a statement indicating that they would be adding a per-installation fee called the Unity runtime fee. As long as a Unity game passed a threshold of yearly revenue and total lifetime installs, it would be charged a flat fee per install. This change will be effective starting from Jan. 1. 

The Unity game engine has two parts to it: the Unity editor and the Unity runtime. The Unity editor is where all the code behind the game is created, and the Unity runtime is the software that is installed on a customer’s computer in order to properly run the game. Previously, Unity was a subscription-based service that charged based on which plan you chose (Unity pro, personal, enterprise and industry). This new fee will not be charged retroactively, so any current Unity games that have passed the threshold will not be affected. 

However, this new fee is a flat fee based on the number of installs of the Unity runtime a game receives, but it is only in effect if a game reaches a threshold of $200,000 in revenue over 12 months and 200,000 total lifetime sales. “A large majority of Unity Editor customers are currently not paying and will NOT be impacted by this change,” wrote president for Create solutions Marc Whitten. 

This fee was aimed towards the larger games like Pokemon GO or Fall Guys that were created through Unity. However, many both small and large creators alike were outraged. “This decision puts us and countless other studios in a position where we might not be able to justify using Unity for our future titles,” read one post on X from AggroCrabGames. “If these changes aren’t rolled back, we’ll be heavily considering abandoning our wealth of Unity expertise we’ve accumulated over the years and starting from scratch in a new engine. Which is something we’d rather not do.”  

Additionally, the creator of Among Us Innersloth said that it would “delay content and features our players actually want” due to the new fee. In fact, many developers have already switched to other platforms like Unreal Engine or Godot. 

In response to the backlash, Whitten released an apology statement on Sep. 22. “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,” said Whitten. “You are what makes Unity great, and… we need to work hard to earn your trust.” 

A couple of policies were changed in the post. The Unity personal plan would no longer recieve any runtime fees, even if it surpassed the threshold. In addition, the threshold for yearly earnings before the fee was increased to $1 million instead of $200,000. The fee will also be capped at a 2.5% revenue share, even if the calculated fee based on the number of people downloading the game exceeds that percentage. 

They also changed the basis from installs to “initial engagement.” This only counts the first time a customer installs the game, meaning that reinstalls or installing on multiple devices don’t count as multiple.

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