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Unity's Fee Fiasco

Posted: 2023-09-19
By: dwirch
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The renowned game engine Unity, behind hits like Cuphead and Among Us, has expressed regret for the uproar generated by their newly introduced Runtime Fee. This fee would cost developers for every game installation beyond a specified limit.

This announcement faced immediate and intense backlash. Developers highlighted potential issues like the fee affecting charity game bundles and the vulnerability to malicious practices like frequent game reinstalls. Notable figures, including heads of major indie studios and even Game Awards host Geoff Keighley, voiced their criticism.

Unity's September 17 post on X (previously Twitter) acknowledged the criticism: "We apologize for the confusion... We are listening... and will be making changes to the policy." The post drew a keen response from Keighley, urging the company to show these changes.

Bloomberg has hinted at an upcoming overhaul of the policy, with Unity possibly capping the fees at 4% for game revenues above $1 million. This revamped plan would also spare past installations from the fee.

Set to roll out on January 1, 2024, the Runtime Fee would be based on a game's revenue and installation frequency. The thresholds vary across Unity's plans. However, tracking these installations brings potential privacy concerns. Unity's attempt to clarify led to further confusion and concerns.

Subsequent communications from Unity suggested that the new policy would impact only about 10% of its users. A clarification revealed this to mean a significant 23,000 developers. This post was eventually removed.

Tensions further escalated when Unity's offices received a serious threat, leading to closure on September 14.

The exact modifications to the runtime fee policy remain uncertain.

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