Game toolset creator Unity is introducing a new fee for game developers based on game installs. The new policy comes into effect on January 1, 2024.
Here are the details of how this will work. Unity is split into two basic functions: the Unity Editor, for developers, and the Unity Runtime, which is the code that executes on PCs, consoles, or mobile to actually play the games. The fee is based on Unity Runtime and activates every time a “qualifying” game is installed. The fee only activates after certain revenue and install base numbers have been met, depending on what version of Unity is being used. The fee itself will also change depending on the number of installs and what region the game is from.
For users of Unity Personal and Plus, the fees will kick in once a game has made $200,000 or more in the last 12 months and once it has been installed at least 200,000 times over its whole lifetime. For Unity Pro and Enterprise, the game will have to have made $1,000,000 or more in the last 12 months and have at least 1,000,000 lifetime installs. Below is a chart, provided by Unity, displaying the various install fees.
The chart of potential install fees via Unity.
The policy has potential cultural impacts as well. Developer Callum Underwood claimed on the Twitter/X that the policy will kill charity bundles. He wrote, “No developer is going to want to give thousands of keys to bundles raising money for charities if it means they will cross the threshold for being charged by unity.” Writer and developer on Fallen London Bruno Dias asked on cohost, “If The Gamers get mad at a studio, can they cause them to incur Unity runtime fees by repeatedly reinstalling the game?”
There is also broad concern about how exactly this will work. For example, would demos count as installs for Unity’s purposes? Would games on Game Pass or other subscription services be especially affected, because they have an increased install base without an increase in sales? It’s not yet clear, and Unity will certainly have to answer developers’ questions in the days ahead.
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