Bowing to pressure, Unity announces the terms of its surrender

Unity announced significant concessions to its new game developer pricing on Friday. After rolling out the widely scorned changes 10 days ago, including a per-install fee many developers said could upend their entire businesses, the company rolled out a walkback today that softens some of the policy’s sharper edges.

Perhaps most notably, users on the Unity Personal plan will no longer be subject to the Unity Runtime Fee. This broadly disdained charge would have forced smaller developers to pay every time their game was installed (including reinstallations from the same user). Under the revised policy, Unity Personal users can earn up to $200,000 without changing plans — up from the previous $100,000. In addition, the company is waiving the requirement to include the “Made with Unity” splash screen.

Meanwhile, developers on Unity Pro and Enterprise plans won’t have to worry about the Unity Runtime Fee until they upgrade to the next LTS (long-term support) version of the engine shipping in 2024. Any current games or projects in development based on versions of Unity older than that won’t be charged the fee. It also only applies to those who switch to the upcoming version. “We will make sure that you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using — as long as you keep using that version,” Unity Create leader Marc Whitten wrote today.

Devs on Unity Pro or Enterprise plans who qualify for the Unity Runtime Fee will pay either a 2.5% cut of their revenue or a “calculated amount based on the number of new people engaging with your game each month.” A fee summary webpage clarifies those as “initial engagements,” which sounds like it voids the previous method that would have charged developers twice if the same person uninstalled and reinstalled their game (or downloaded it onto a new device). In addition, Unity clarified that developers will self-report the numbers determining the fee and will always pay the lesser amount of the two, quelling concerns about the potential for tracking and abuse.

Unity also said no game with less than $1 million in revenue for the preceding 12 months will pay the fee.

Whitten sounded a conciliatory tone as the company does damage control over its roundly condemned plans. “I want to start with simply this: I am sorry,” he wrote. “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. We have heard your concerns, and we are making changes in the policy we announced to address them.”

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