Unity is a cross-platform game engine that was released back in 2005, and since then it has grown in prominence, but after three massive rounds of layoffs in 2023 they’re implementing a new fee for users in 2024.
Unity Technologies took to their blog today to inform their users about plan pricing and packaging updates regarding their platform. Regarding the fact the Unity software is actually comprised of two working components — the Editor and Runtime — the Tech company is instituting a Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end-user.
The reasoning behind the new fee is due to the Runtime software being installed each time a game is downloaded. Unity believes “an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains from player engagement, unlike a revenue share” as stated in the lengthy blog post. Below is a table provided by the tech company, to show the fees taken.
To ‘qualify’ for the new fees, two criteria have to be met: the game has passed a minimum revenue threshold in the last 12 months, and the game has passed a minimum lifetime install count. For Plus and Personal, the threshold is those that have made $200,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 200,000-lifetime game installs. For Pro and Enterprise plans the threshold is much more lenient with $1,000,000 USD or more in the last 12 months and have at least 1,000,000 lifetime game installs.
What’s interesting is Unity elected to post the thresholds for the Plus subscription, yet today marks the last day Plus will even be offered. In a statement the tech company said “Plus is being retired for new subscribers effective today, September 12, 2023, to simplify the number of plans we offer. Existing subscribers do not need to take immediate action and will receive an email in mid-October with an offer to upgrade” effectively dropping their lowest subscription cost (personal still appears to be free).
Some fans have blasted the company for the new model on X (formerly Twitter). User Rami Ismail said “If you made a game that just reached $200K in revenue at a 50/50 publisher split, and you decided to support say, this charity bundle for Racial Justice, you’d end up up to $60K in debt” in a tweet directed at the new model. There is also an entire Reddit thread filled with users lambasting the decision, calling the “$0.20 per install” predatory.
UPDATE [SEPT 13]: Unity CEO John Riccitiello sold 2,000 shares a week before Runtime Fee Reveal
Interestingly enough, while Unity hasn’t addressed stockholders yet regarding the controversial Runtime Fee announced yesterday for the January 1, 2024 launch, CEO John Riccitiello has reportedly been liquidating his own stock in the technology company for the past year according to Yahoo Finance.
Yahoo reveals that John Riccitiello has sold approximately 50,610 shares and purchased none over the past year. It’s worth noting that almost immediately after the Runtime Fee announcement, the Unity stock price has fallen by 5% according to Google Finance. While the CEO’s actions may raise eyebrows, there is no concrete proof anything unethical has been done just yet.
While Unity has yet to respond to user backlash, there will be certainly more developments prior to the January fee rollout. Fans can head over to the official tech blog website for all of the initial information.