Following Controversial Changes, Unity Unveils Revamped Policy For Developers
The previously announced fee will also only apply to versions of Unity from 2024 or later.
Unity has walked back parts of its new Runtime Fee policy, which would have charged game developers per game install. Now, users of Unity Personal or Plus will not be charged, those using Pro or Enterprise can opt for a 2.5% revenue share instead, and only upcoming versions of Unity will apply the fee.
In an open letter, Unity Create lead Marc Whitten outlined the changes. The Runtime Fee policy will start only with the next Long Term Support (LTS) version of Unity, which will launch in 2024. Any game made with prior versions of Unity, including the current 2022 LTS, will not be charged. Only games made with Unity Pro or Enterprise levels will be eligible for the free, and no game with less than $1 million in trailing 12-month revenue will be charged any additional fee.
Any developer that would be charged a runtime fee can opt instead for a 2.5% revenue share. Developers will always be billed the lesser of the two potential fees. Unity has also changed the language from "installs" to "initial engagements." According to Unity, this means "the moment that a distinct end user successfully and legitimately acquires, downloads, or engages with a game powered by the Unity Runtime, for the first time in a distribution channel." Additionally, the basis for the Runtime Fee will be self-reported rather than gathered by Unity.
How exactly self-reporting will work is still unclear, but Unity promised in a Q&A that, "We will work with customers and partners to develop tools and processes to make this as easy as possible for customers." If developers don't self-report, Unity will gather its own data from the services the developer has used.
As part of the open letter, Whitten apologized for the confusion and controversy. He wrote, "I want to start with simply this: I am sorry. We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy. 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. You are what makes Unity great, and we know we need to listen, and work hard to earn your trust."
Reactions from game developers have ranged from relief to continued frustration. Developer and consultant Rami Ismail said on Twitter, "You know what, on first glance, I think this works? It's effectively a 2.5% revenue share for $1M+p/y earners? No retroactivity left, LTS stability, no black-box data, yeah? I think that works for every use-case."
Not every developer is optimistic and many have continued to express concerns. Some developers, such as Gloomwood dev Dillion Rogers, stated that the changes have not repaired trust. Rogers elaborated on Twitter, "You can’t promise away the notion that you won’t quietly remove important clauses from the ToS after you’ve already tried it. That damage is permanent."
In the wake of the debacle, many developers have announced plans to switch to competing engines. For example, Caves of Qud developer Brian Bucklew documented his attempt to switch the roguelike to Godot. Others have expressed interest in Epic's Unreal Engine.
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