Unity apologizes to video game developers, but it’s a little late

Unity, which develops the video game engine widely used by independents, has reversed its scandalous policy. But developers have already started to jump ship.

While Apple unveiled its iPhone 15, the Unity gaming engine announced an overhaul of its economic model. In summary, he planned to tax at a fixed cost the installations of games developed with his engine above a certain level. A policy which could easily cause the bankruptcy of many young studios and endanger part of the video game economic models. Especially games free to play or available in subscription plans like Game Pass.

After more than a week of online debates, where the idea of ​​a class action before the courts was studied, where certain developers announced the withdrawal of their games from stores or the porting to other game engines, Unity has issued a letter of apology. The company has completely changed its new business model.

A new, much more acceptable scheme

The new system put in place is enough to reassure developers as it seems much more virtuous and acceptable than the announcement of September 12. First of all, there will be no installation fee for developers who use the plan Unity Personal which remains completely free, or Unity Plus. Only games developed with Unity Pro Or Unity Enterprise are therefore concerned.

Then, the new system is no longer retroactive. In fact, only games developed from the LTS version which will be released in 2024 will be affected. In other words, games under development do not necessarily need to change game engines.

Finally, Unity will offer developers the choice between two models each month. After a game exceeds $1 million in revenue over 12 months, and 1 million installs, developers will be able to choose between a 2.5% commission on the game’s revenue, or the famous installation tax. Finally, it will be developers and publishers who share their installation figures with Unity and not the other way around.

The new model is therefore much more flexible and less predatory for small teams.

Too late ?

The reaction to this announcement from Unity has been very positive. Many developers and analysts say they are reassured by this turnaround.

However, confidence in the engine was deeply damaged. This case has highlighted very credible alternatives such as Godot Or MonoGame. Developers can never be completely assured that there will not be another turnaround from Unity in 6 months, 1 year, 2 years or 3 years. However, this confidence is essential when you embark on the development of a video game in the hope of earning long-term income from it.

Furthermore, the new pricing policy proposed by Unity for future games remains much more expensive for professional developers than before. A price level that approaches the engine of the leader in the sector: Unreal Engine. In addition, the engine continues to consider that the installation of a game is a good unit of measurement of its financial success, which still seems completely anachronistic in 2023. It is therefore difficult to assess at this stage the repercussions of these announcements successive.

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