Friday, September 22, 2023

Unity backs down and promises changes to its controversial new pricing policy

TO Unity A bomb has exploded in his hands. After the controversy that arose after the announcement of a new pricing policy that would force developers who use its graphics engine to pay a fee for each installation of their games, the company has had no choice but to back down, apologize and promise changes to remedy the situation.

In a brief message published on X (Twitter), Unity has apologized “for the confusion and anguish” caused by its announcement. The company indicated that modifications will be applied to the new monetization strategy which will come into effect on January 1, 2024. However, he avoided providing further details and assured that the news will be announced soon.

In this way, Unity has tried to calm the waters after a week of chaos. “We’ve heard you. We apologize for the confusion and distress caused by the Runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday. We are listening, talking to our team members, the community, customers and partners, and we will make changes in policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical comments,” they communicated through the social network.

Of course, mistrust among developers who depend on this graphics engine is still at very high levels. And the entire games industry has now turned its eyes to Unity to see how it gets out of the mess it has gotten itself into. That Geoff Keighleythe creator of Summer Game Festival and the Game Awardsand probably one of the most influential personalities in the sector, has demanded to see the promised changes, it is not a minor detail.

The studios that depend on this technology, especially the independent ones, not only see the new pricing policy as an economic detriment, but also as a violation of trust. Unity not only announced an abusive pricing policy without giving prior notice, but also removed its terms and conditions of use from GitHub.

Unity apologizes and promises changes to its new pricing policy

If you don’t quite understand why there is so much controversy around Unity, we will briefly review it. Last Tuesday, the creators of the graphics engine announced that as of January 1, 2024, a new pricing policy would come into effect that would force developers to pay a kind of royalty for each new installation of your games.

The fee established by those led by John Riccietello would go into effect when two thresholds were met: if the game exceeded 200,000 total installations since its launch and if it had generated revenue of more than $200,000 in the last 12 months. Once both limits are exceeded, the developers They would have to pay up to 20 cents for each new installation.

It is worth clarifying, however, that the Unity Runtime rate would not be identical for everyone. What was mentioned in the previous paragraph would apply to subscribers of the Unity Personal and Unity Plus plans. For Unity Pro users, the “tax” on each new installation would start at 15 centsonce their games reached 1 million total installs and $1 million in revenue over the last 12 months.

For those depending on Unity Enterprise, the conditions would be the same as those of Unity Pro. However, the fee for each new installation would be slightly lower: or,125 dollars.

The wrath of the developers

Developers who use Unity in their video games immediately cried out. In many cases they stated that a plan of this type would lead to ruin. This is because, depending on the popularity of the game, previously unforeseen expenses of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars could be generated. A situation that would hit small and independent studios the hardest.

But the fact that the tariff was applied unilaterally, with little clarity and without further explanation, is probably what has caused the most anger. After the original announcement, Unity tried to explain the situationalthough it failed to appease the creators.

According to the company, more than 90% of its customers would not be impacted by the new pricing policy. He also assured that the rate would only apply to new installations carried out since January 1, 2024. In addition, reinstallations or “fraudulent installations” – pirated copies, for example – would not be contemplated. Meanwhile, there would be no charge for web or streaming games, nor in installations derived from charitable initiatives. In this last case, we estimate that it refers to packages such as Humble Bundle or similar.

Despite the clarification, the relationship between the studios and Unity seems to have broken down. Assuming that the new strategy impacts 10% of developers, around 23,000 would be affected. A no less number and whose estimate comes from a 2022 investor report. There, the company assured that 230,000 creators used its engine and services in more than 750,000 games.

Mega Critcreators of Slay the Spire they announced that They will migrate the development of a new game to another graphics engine if the changes are not reversed and protections are implemented to the terms and conditions of use. Innersloththe creators of Among Usalso They have been very critical about.

A disastrous internal climate

The Unity case has not only generated discontent among the community of video game developers. Within the company things are not flowing in the best way either.. In 2022, the firm laid off about 600 workers, and finances are still not good. In its most recent financial report, John Riccietello’s team reported losses of more than $880 million.

Tempers are so heated that two Unity offices were closed last week—one in Austin, Texas, and the other in San Francisco, California—due to the emergence of “credible death threats.” It was later learned that they had been generated by a company employee.

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