Why one of the Biggest Game Engine Dev Shot themselves in the Foot

Why one of the Biggest Game Engine Dev Shot themselves in the Foot

For those unaware of the events transpiring in the gaming world, Major games we all know, such as Pokemon Go, Genshin Impact, Subanutica, and many more popular titles on Android, PC, iOS, and Consoles, were made on the Unity Engine. In layman's terms, A game engine has all the raw materials you can use to make a game. The Largest game engines in the market are Unreal and Unity. Every major high-end game is made with these tools. And they have their pricing models.

The Decision

Unity this week announced a drastic change in their pricing model and added new fees, which were questionable in nature. It adds extra expenses to developers for various actions, notably the act of end users installing a Unity game. If a game reaches certain thresholds ($200k for the free Unity tier, which sounds high but isn't for a studio), it will start incurring fees every time a user installs it.

Not too bad, right? It's like a $0.20 revenue share, which is pretty good for a $10 game. Certainly better than Unreal's 5%. However, that's different from how this works. It's per install. And you've probably got about five different interpretations of how that could work. Take those five guesses, pick the stupidest one, and yep, that's what they went with.

The Flaw

Any install, any reinstall, any installation on a second device, each and every one slap the dev with a fee. It gets dumber because that cracked copy of your game on the high seas still incurs a fee when the pirate installs it. You might think we're at peak stupidity. You might think anyone who makes anything with Unity is an idiot (the CEO certainly does), but we're not done yet.

It's retroactive. No, not the install counts; it's retroactive in terms of applying to previously released games. Remember Subnautica from 2014? It's subject to these fees if it meets the yearly install/revenue thresholds. And it certainly will.

The “Proposed” Solution

But we're still not done yet. You might think, can't a user maliciously install and uninstall your game to incur the fee every time? And yes. Yes, they can. Unity's solution to this is to "complain to their frauds department," which sounds like a wonderful way of dealing with something that any individual on the planet can automate.

All in all, it's as though Unity has gotten bored of being a business and decided that they'd rather live out the rest of their days as a clown show. As of the time of writing, they said they can't tell what a reinstall is or the difference between a purchase and a pirated install. Somehow, within 24 hours, they've magically developed the technology, too.

This can be seen as an invitation for all online store owners to get into a legal battle with unity.

This year has been tough on developers making a living on SaaS Software Users. First, it was Reddit, and now it’s Unity. These hidden fees add up and are slowly eating up their earnings. While it can be justified by saying they are well within their rights to operate their business as they wish, there is a fine line between greed and driving profitability.