Thursday, June 13, 2024
From the Wire

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

In a recent turn of events, Unity, the game engine developer, is reversing its highly criticized runtime installation policy. After facing backlash from developers last week, Unity Create President Marc Whitten issued an open letter to the gaming community, expressing regret for not incorporating their feedback before announcing the policy. The new policy states that developers using Unity Personal or Plus plans will no longer be charged a per-install fee, and the fee will not be applied to existing games. Instead, Unity is offering developers a choice between a 2.5% revenue share or a calculated amount based on the number of new players engaged with the game each month. However, it remains to be seen whether this new policy will fully satisfy game developers, who previously threatened to switch to other game engines. The new policy will be implemented in January 2024.

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

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Unity’s Runtime Install Policy

Controversy and Backtracking

Unity, the renowned game engine developer, found itself in the midst of a controversy after announcing its runtime installation policy. The company initially planned to charge developers a fee each time a game made on the Unity engine was installed by a customer. This decision faced significant backlash from developers, who took to social media to express their discontentment. Critics argued that this policy would place an undue financial burden on game developers and hinder their creative freedom.

Open Letter and Apology

Realizing the impact of their initial decision, Unity Create President Marc Whitten addressed the gaming community in an open letter. Whitten acknowledged the mistake made by the company and apologized for not actively incorporating feedback from developers before introducing the new runtime fee policy. This transparent display of accountability and understanding demonstrated Unity’s commitment to listening to the concerns of their users and working towards a more favorable solution.

New Policy Announcement

In the open letter, Whitten also unveiled Unity’s revised policy regarding runtime installation fees. The new policy eliminated the per-install fee for developers using Unity Personal or Plus plans. It was clarified that the fee would not be applied retrospectively to existing games, providing relief to developers who had already released games using Unity. This new direction aimed to alleviate the financial burden on developers and foster a more supportive environment for the community.

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

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The Original Runtime Install Policy

Unity’s Plan to Charge Developers

Unity’s original plan revolved around charging developers a fee for each installation of a game built on the Unity engine. The imposition of such a fee drew considerable criticism from developers, who argued that it would severely impact their revenue and hinder their ability to create innovative and engaging games. The announcement triggered a wave of discontentment within the gaming community, prompting Unity to reevaluate its policy.

Revenue Threshold and Install Minimum

Under the original policy, Unity intended to implement a revenue threshold and an install minimum to determine the applicability of the runtime fee. Developers would be subject to the fee if their game generated revenue above a specified threshold within the previous year and achieved a minimum number of lifetime installs. The revenue threshold initially started at $200,000, accompanied by a minimum install count of 200,000.

Per-Install Fee Structure

Unity’s original policy entailed charging developers a per-install fee for each occurrence a game was downloaded and installed. This fee would apply to both initial installations and subsequent re-installations, including instances where players deleted and re-downloaded the game. Unity had sole discretion in collecting installation numbers. Manifesting as a monetary burden, this fee structure posed significant challenges for developers aiming to maximize reach and engagement.

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

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Details of the New Policy

No Fee for Unity Personal or Plus Plans

In response to the backlash from developers, Unity revised its policy to waive the per-install fee for developers utilizing Unity Personal or Plus plans. This change aimed to alleviate the financial burden on developers who operated within these plans, enabling them to focus on creating and distributing their games without incurring additional costs. The exemption of Unity Personal and Plus plans from the fee demonstrated Unity’s commitment to supporting developers at various stages of their journey.

Choice of Revenue Share or New People Engagement

Under the revised policy, game developers subject to the runtime fee were given two options for payment: a 2.5% revenue share or an amount based on the number of new people engaging with their game each month. Developers were required to self-report these numbers using data already available to them. Unity expressed its commitment to ensuring fairness by billing developers the lesser amount between the two options, thereby providing flexibility in fulfilling their financial obligations.

Self-Reported Data and Billing

Unity’s revised policy relied on self-reported data provided by developers. By utilizing data already available to developers, Unity aimed to streamline the billing process and simplify revenue calculations. This approach allowed developers to leverage existing metrics and statistics to fulfill their financial responsibilities accurately. Unity’s trust in developers to report their data correctly fostered a sense of partnership and collaboration between the company and its users.

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

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Impact on Game Developers

Backlash and Threats to Switch Engines

The initial announcement of Unity’s runtime installation policy sparked widespread backlash within the game development community. Many developers were disheartened by the potential financial strain imposed by the policy and threatened to explore alternative game engines for their future projects. The backlash highlighted the importance of considering the needs and concerns of developers, as their loyalty and support play a pivotal role in Unity’s continued success.

Changes to Revenue Threshold

In response to the immense backlash, Unity made adjustments to the revenue threshold criterion for determining the applicability of the runtime fee. Originally set at $200,000, the threshold underwent revision to only charge games generating at least $1 million in revenue. This change aimed to alleviate the financial burden on developers of smaller-scale games and provide a fairer and more accommodating policy that aligned with developers’ diverse needs.

Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

Implementation Timeline

Effective Date of the New Policy

Unity’s revised runtime install policy is set to go into effect in January 2024. This announcement gives developers the opportunity to plan accordingly and make informed decisions regarding their game development pipeline. The implementation timeline allows both Unity and its users to adapt to the changes and establish a mutual understanding of the expectations and obligations associated with the policy.

Unity’s journey through the controversy surrounding its runtime install policy demonstrates the significance of open dialogue and the willingness to adapt in the face of community feedback. By revising and refining its policy, Unity showcases its commitment to supporting and empowering game developers at all levels. This iterative approach fosters a collaborative and mutually beneficial relationship between Unity and the vibrant community it serves.

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Source: https://mashable.com/article/unity-walks-back-on-runtime-install-policy