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How the Unity Scandal Could Affect Your Favourite Upcoming Games

How the Unity Scandal Could Affect Your Favourite Upcoming Games

Recently, Unity — a very famous videogame engine that has been used to create many masterpieces — underwent a massive scandal over its new upcoming pricing practices. In a post announcing an increase in price and a runtime fee, what might have seemed harmless for some and those unaware of the situation became a scandal for many developers and a potential threat for some of the most anticipated upcoming games.

The pricing changes aren't as ludicrous at first glance, as many even understood Unity's desire to earn more from the highest-earning titles created with its engine. Games like Pokémon GORaid: Shadow Legends,Genshin Impact,Hollow Knight, and Cuphead have been made using Unity, and the company sought to find a way to earn money from those who found massive success with the engine.

In a now-updated blog named "Unity plan pricing and packaging updates", the company shares its plans to use a runtime fee for those who have reached certain thresholds. Most notably, having earned a certain amount of revenue over the last 12 months, with pricing varying between packages ($200,000 for Unity Personal and Unity Plus to $1,000,000 for Enterprise). Alongside this, your game must have received at least a total of 200,000 installs (Unity Personal and Unity Plus) or 1,000,000 before you qualify for the Runtime Fee.

Unity Plan Pricing and Packaging Updates

Calculations and monetary value aside, the biggest controversy that Unity came across was their approach to said fees — owing a price per install. Though these won't be retroactive, many developers on X feared the possible implications for a system that makes you pay per install rather than per unit sold, where bad actors could “install bomb” a game to raise the fees required, or free-to-play games might see large numbers of installs that rack up debt, or subscription services with several million subscribers (such as the case of Xbox Game Pass) could see these fees skyrocket. 

Unity has responded to some of the most frequently asked questions in a Q&A taking place in the official Unity plan pricing and packaging updates, where they touch on the possibility of install bombing and copies obtained through piracy. Though they assure that these won't be an issue, as installs will only count unique devices it's installed from, and they have a "fraud detection system", developers aren't so keen on trusting the company after this breach of trust. A lot of the fundamentals of this pricing update have been changed over the few days since it was announced, with the company going back on their word on various points (such as reinstalls not counting as of the 14th of September, whereas originally, all reinstalls were allowed).

This leaves developers in an uncomfortable position, and this affects you — as an independent gamer disconnected from the development industry — as well. Furious developers have taken to X and sent their concerns on posts: AGGRO CRAB shared a strongly worded post, Massive Monster compared Unity to faeces, and even Mega Crit (the company behind Slay the Spire, who has been relatively quiet throughout all of these years) has spoken up. And there is one sentiment in common: Unity screwed up. Massively.

Massive Monster mentions that their future projects might see a halt in development until the team is able to learn the new skill sets required to migrate to a new engine. Mega Crit parrots the same, saying that despite all of the time they have put into their new title, they will be migrating to a new engine. And this is where gamers are affected: Unity's controversial approach to its runtime fees might see some games delayed — possibly even indefinitely.

Videogame development is no easy and cheap task, and swapping to a new engine altogether is a massive undertaking that a lot of developers — most importantly, indie ones — cannot afford. To give you an idea of the massive amounts of games affected, you can check the various Made with Unity roundups, where the company displays the best of the best titles released, with some from August you might recognise such as Blasphemous 2,WrestleQuestI Am Future: Cozy Apocalypse Survival, and — likely most notable of all from August —Sea of Stars.

This also sparks up a question that many have and a fear overall — upcoming games. As Mega Crit already alluded, their game might have to see a delay to port over to a new engine, but even beyond unnamed titles, Human Fall Flat 2 and Hollow Knight: Silksong are among the affected that might see an upcoming delay, alongside likely hundreds of Unity-built indie titles.

At this point, it brings the question: can developers trust Unity, even if they stand down from their runtime fee? As mentioned by many developers, the trust between them has been broken, and a retraction from this statement won't bring back the trust that had been built over the years — nothing is stopping them from doing this again in the future. Or changing the terms if they double down. Only time will tell how this will have an effect on the industry, as the question of "if" has been removed from the equation ever since the original announcement.

Artura Dawn

Artura Dawn

Staff Writer

Writes in her sleep, can you tell?

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