Last week, the game engine and development tool company Unity announced that starting January 1, 2024, it would charge a per-install fee for its runtime software. That means every game made with Unity would be charged a per-install amount once a certain level of installs and revenue is reached.
The announcement was met with a massive amount of negative comments online, particularly from current Unity game developers who felt that this policy change would put many smaller indie game creators in financial jeopardy. Unity has since tried to do damage control, stating some exceptions to the policy for certain platforms and for certain releases, such as games released for charity and also for subscription services like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass.
However, those clarifications have not served to end the swarm of protests against Unity. Tonight, in an unusual late Sunday post on its X (formerly Twitter) account, Unity seems to have blinked at least partially,
We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of…
— Unity (@unity) September 17, 2023
The post stated that the company wanted to “apologize for the confusion and angst” about its revenue policy changes. It says that it has been talking and listening to “team members, community, customers, and partners” and that it will be “making changes to the policy”. The post added that we can expect more details “in a couple of days.”
Even if Unity does a complete 180 and reverses its per-install fee plans for its runtime, it may be too late for many current Unity team members. One of them is Garry Newman, the creator of Garry’s Mod and the head of Facepunch, which made the popular survival game Rust with the Unity engine.
In a blog post, Newman stated that while the per-install fee policy would not affect Facepunch that much, he did state that was not the reason they were upset:
It hurts because we didn’t agree to this. We used the engine because you pay up front and then ship your product. We weren’t told this was going to happen. We weren’t warned. We weren’t consulted. We have spent 10 years making Rust on Unity’s engine. We’ve paid them every year. And now they changed the rules.
Newman added that if a sequel to Rust is made, it “definitely won’t be a Unity game.”