Power to the devs: Unity apologises for controversial pricing plan

18 Sep 2023

Image: © monticellllo/Stock.adobe.com

The company was reportedly forced to close its offices after receiving death threats, after its planned pricing model sparked outrage among game developers.

Unity appears to be caving in to a wave of criticism over its plans to bring in a new pricing policy for its game development engine.

The company caused controversy last week when it announced plans to bring in a pay-per-download pricing scheme for Unity Runtime, which is code on the engine that executes on player devices and makes Made with Unity games work at scale.

Under these planned changes, developers were going to be charged a fee each time a “qualifying game” is downloaded by an end user.

These changes were due to take place at the start of next year, but a wave of criticism from game developers has caused Unity to apologise for the “confusion and angst” the announcement caused.

“We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy,” Unity said on X. “We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.”

Various game developers raised issues with the planned fees, with indie game company Landfall calling the decision a counter to previous Unity statements and a “huge breach of trust”.

There were also complaints that the fees would be applied retroactively, which would impact games that had successful launches years ago.

“They are making this change without any form of opt-in or consent from developers and retroactively applying this new rule to games developed and released years ago,” Landfall said on X. “At present, we don’t see how we can start any new projects using Unity when there is no way to know what kind of retroactive business model they might throw at us in the future.”

The outrage became so severe that Unity was forced to close its offices after receiving death threats, Business Today reported.

Last year, Unity received an offer to be acquired by mobile gaming tech company AppLovin in a $17.54bn deal. However, Unity’s board of directors rejected the takeover proposal, saying it was “not in the best interests of Unity shareholders”.

The board instead urged the shareholders to vote in favour of the acquisition of AppLovin competitor IronSource for $4.4bn, which was completed last November.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic