Unity is walking back its runtime install policy

At least partially.
By Chance Townsend  on 
the Unity Technologies (Unity Software Inc.) logo is seen on a smartphone and a pc screen
Credit: SOPA Images via Getty

After a controversial week for Unity, the game engine developer is walking back (at least partially) its much-derided runtime installation policy. Last Tuesday, the company announced its plan to charge game developers a fee every time a game made on the Unity engine was installed by a customer.

As you can imagine, this did not go down well with the developers, who took to social media to voice their fury. In an open letter to the gaming community on Friday, Unity Create President Marc Whitten apologized, saying that the company "should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy."

Whitten's open letter also outlined Unity's new policy, confirming that the company would no longer charge a per-install fee to developers using Unity Personal or Plus plans — and that the fee would not be applied to existing games.

"For games that are subject to the runtime fee, we are giving you a choice of either a 2.5% revenue share or the calculated amount based on the number of new people engaging with your game each month," Whitten wrote. "Both of these numbers are self-reported from data you already have available. You will always be billed the lesser amount."

As Mashable's Amanda Yeo wrote after the first announcement, the company's original plan was to charge developers working on the engine a "Unity Runtime Fee" on any game running on Unity, "provided they have passed both a minimum revenue threshold within the last year and a minimum lifetime install count." Depending on which version of Unity was used, the threshold started at $200,000 in revenue and an install minimum of 200,000. Unity would then charge developers up to $0.20 per install — including players who delete and re-install the game. (Unity would also have sole discretion on the collection of installation numbers).

Doing quick math, for any game that surpassed 1 million installs, the developer would owe Unity $200,000. And for any fairly popular indie video game this is a lot of money. With the new policy announced on Friday, the revenue threshold has been changed so only games making at least $1 million will be charged, rather than games that make over $200,000.

Whether or not this new policy appeases game developers remains to be seen, given the level of backlash after the first announcement — many of them threatened to create their games on a new engine.

The new policy announced on Friday will go into effect in January 2024.

Topics Gaming

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Chance Townsend
Assistant Editor, General Assignments

Currently residing in Austin, Texas, Chance Townsend is an Assistant Editor at Mashable. He has a Master's in Journalism from the University of North Texas with the bulk of his research primarily focused on online communities, dating apps, and professional wrestling.

In his free time, he's an avid cook, loves to sleep, and "enjoys" watching the Lions and Pistons break his heart on a weekly basis. If you have any stories or recipes that might be of interest you can reach him by email at [email protected].

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