Unity has sought to clarify plans to charge an install fee for games made using its tools after its announcement of the move sparked a backlash from developers.
Starting in January 2024, the new Unity Runtime Fee will apply to games that meet a minimum revenue threshold and have passed a minimum lifetime install count.
The announcement sparked outrage among some members of the development community, who said the new fee structure was ill-conceived, unfavourable to game makers, and could be open to abuse.
Developers questioned why Unity had decided to introduce fees that could penalise them for placing their game in a big sale or deciding to include it in a charity bundle or a subscription service like Xbox Game Pass.
After previously saying that a player installing a game, deleting it and then installing it again would result in multiple fees—something which would potentially allow malicious groups to target specific developers—Unity exec Marc Whitten told Axios that the company had tweaked the policy so that it would only charge for an initial installation.
Fees for titles downloaded through subscription services like Game Pass will be charged to distributors like Microsoft, rather than developers, Unity said.
Runtime fees won’t be charged for installations of game demos, unless the demo is part of a package that includes the entire game, such as an early access release.
Unity also told Game Developer that “qualifying charities will not be charged for installs”.
Whitten estimated that the thresholds being put in place would result in about 10% of Unity developers ending up having to pay fees.
The new policy has been widely criticised by developers, with some threatening to delist games made with Unity and others calling on the company to axe the fee plans.
Cult of the Lamb studio Massive Monster told players to buy the game now, “cause we’re deleting it on Jan 1”.
“This would harm not only us, but fellow game studios of all budgets and sizes,” said Among Us developer Innersloth. “If this goes through, we’d delay content and features our players actually want to port our game elsewhere (as others are also considering). But many developers won’t have the time or means to do the same.”
Studio co-founder and programmer Forest Willard added: “I’ve learned that Unity’s fee won’t be retroactive which is delightful, but also Among Us gets enough dls per month that I could just hire two whole people to port AU away from Unity instead of them taxing us for 0 added value.”