Unity's New Install Fee Rankles Developer Community
Conversations around the split of a game's revenue between digital stores like Epic Games Store, Steam, and GOG, and developers/publishers have been common, but the contribution of game engines is less discussed. Popular engines like Unreal Engine and Unity take a slice of the revenue before it reaches the developers/publishers. Recently, Unreal changed its revenue share structure and now Unity has followed, causing controversy.
Unity plans to initiate 'Unity Runtime Fees' from January 1, 2024, replacing the previous revenue share system. Now, game creators will pay Unity a fee for each installation of their game on a device. The fee will be determined by the type of Unity subscription the developer has, after certain milestones are achieved. Unity insists that a small number of titles will be impacted by this change, but social media response suggests extensive dissatisfaction.
Developers Innersloth of Among Us, and Aggro Crab of Another Crab's Treasure, are among the initial opponents of the change and they have significant company - Massive Monster of Cult of the Lamb, among others, have hinted at changing engine if the fees are implemented.
It's understandable given the original proposal was to charge the fee for each game installation across different devices. Unity later revised this in a comment to Axios's Stephen Totilo, stating that fees will apply only to the initial installation and not to demos (unless they are part of Early Access or other complete game variants), subscription services, or charity offers. However, the outcry from well-known development teams suggests Unity may have to review its decision or face backlash. The path Unity chooses will be of great interest.