Details emerge around Unity’s fee changes after outcry

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Details have emerged regarding the proposed changes to Unity’s controversial per-install fee plan for developers.

These changes come in response to the outcry and concerns raised within the game development community about Unity’s recently announced new fee structure potentially bankrupting developers.

Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, known for his in-depth coverage of the gaming industry, has shed light on the potential modifications during a Unity all-hands meeting (a meeting that was delayed as a precaution due to a ‘credible’ death threat).

One significant change that Unity is tentatively considering is the introduction of hard limits on fees based on a company’s total revenue.

According to Schreier’s report, Unity may cap fees at four percent of a game’s revenue. This adjustment aims to address the apprehensions that some developers have expressed about the current fee structure.

Chief among developers’ concerns was the potential for players to exploit Unity’s per-install fee system by repeatedly installing and uninstalling games as a form of expressing their disgruntlement – as often seen with “review bombing” – effectively costing developers money.

The proposed limit is expected to apply to “customers making over $1 million,” leaving questions about its impact on smaller games and developers. For comparison, Unity’s main rival – Unreal Engine – imposes a flat five percent royalty on developer revenue after the first $1 million.

Unity executives also discussed the possibility of allowing developers to “self-report” data related to the total number of installations for fee-collection purposes.

Previously, Unity had announced plans to collect data from various sources to create its proprietary data model for tracking game installs. However, this sparked concerns among developers regarding privacy and data accuracy.

Another potential change is that counts of installations may not be retroactive concerning minimum thresholds for fee charges. This adjustment would prevent penalising games that achieved significant sales under the previous fee-free terms and provide some leeway for games slated for release before the new fee structure takes effect on 1 January 2024.

During the meeting, Unity CEO John Riccitiello acknowledged the magnitude of the changes, stating: “It is a massively transformational change to our business model… I think we could have done a lot of things a lot better.”

Riccitiello is no stranger to controversy. Last year, Riccitiello issued an apology following an interview where he called some game developers “the biggest fucking idiots”. Before this latest situation, developers were already threatening to switch engines:

Only time will tell whether Unity’s latest attempts to put out the fires it lit and gain back developers’ trust will be successful. 

(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

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