Unity announced a partial reversal of its wildly controversial Runtime Fee policy on Friday, but is some way from repairing the damage done to its reputation.
Unity Create boss Marc Whitten apologised for the furore, saying: “I am sorry. We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy.”
The new cost structure is still complex, but is best explained by the table below:
Mobile game developers have spent the weekend digesting the news, and many we spoke to are relieved, but still looking at other engines because of the increased costs.
Village Studio cofounder Will Luton, a former Rovio product manager and consultant at Department of Play, told us on X: “It’s not enough. The only thing that would come close to restoring good will is to go back to the pricing we’ve always known.”
“Unity is so core to a business they need to know they can depend on it. Shifting pricing introduces an uncertainty you cannot build on top off.”
“It feels a bit like leasing a shop then the landlord decides to stand outside with a clicker and rummage around in your till one day. No announcement. Just because they want to. That landlord knows you can lease another shop, but it’s expensive and time consuming.”
“When you open a second shop, no way you’re leasing from them again. Same for all the people who know. The trust is gone.”
Mobilegamer.biz readers on LinkedIn also had their say:
“Trust is totally gone. Anyone active in mobile engine development can leverage this moment to build a unicorn.” – Arseny Lebedev, Original Games CEO.
“I think our studio and others have lost trust in Unity to the point that we will still be looking to make a change.” – B.J. Fink, Radcl Consulting founder.
“Unfortunately, we’ll have to switch. It hurts because we’ve been using Unity for years but I can’t wrap my head around paying for Pro licenses in advance and still have to pay a rev share. If they drop the license cost, then that’s another story.” – Anthony Demanuele, Flying Squirrel Games founder and tech lead.
“John Riccitiello has gotta go.” – Fred Toms, Symbiosis Games cofounder and president.
“It means we can never trust Unity again as long as the leadership remains in place. It means we’ll continue to advise our clients to migrate. It means we’ll cancel our own projects on Unity. Nothing material has changed from The Tuesday.” – Bjørn Furuknap, Mob Games CEO.
“Too little too late perhaps. It’s created a space of mistrust which might take a while for game devs to heal and recover from.” – Samuel Sawian, Barking Deer CEO.
“Going against the swarm here, somewhat: The current price change proposal looks fine to me. Compared to store taxation, country level taxation, but also programmer availability and retraining costs, the cap looks like a workable solution even if factored in a raise in 2-3 years.
The disappointment is understandable when we got used to the consistent subsidy over the years Unity has given. But we should not forget that other market actors too demand quite a share of the pie for less fundamentally productive services (again: Stores but also MMPs, ‘creative’ agencies).
We’re in a period of re-discovery of business maths where a lot of inefficient capital was distributed and created a false expectation. Unity had to correct, and so needs the industry.” – Manuel Prueter, Colossi Games CEO.
Indie developer and maker of Card Thief and Miracle Merchant Arnold Rauers summed up his dilemma on his blog:
“I’ve been given a 1 year ultimatum to either upgrade to a Pro subscription and increase my monthly fees from about $35 to $180 (without any benefit, since I don’t need console support), or going through the very painful and maybe impossible process of updating all my games to Unity’s latest version…my plan for now is to use the grace period where I’m able to purchase Unity Pro for the cost of Plus for another year and explore my options for updating my old games and after that I will reassess my options again.”
Rauers concludes: “Overall this whole development has been disheartening to say the least. Again I’m all for paying and contributing my part to keep the great people who created this engine afloat, but looking at the recent moves Unity ‘the publicly traded company’ has made, has not given me big hopes that this trend of more aggressive cost increases to create ‘more shareholder value’ will end any time soon.
To end this post on a positive note, I just wanted to say thanks to the developer community that has been just great in these last days. It’s been a long time since everybody was on the same page and stood up in unity against a company that should know, that the most valuable asset they have are the very developers they tried to screw over.”