Engine maker Unity apologizes for runtime fee pricing plan backlash

  • By Tom Richardson
  • BBC Newsbeat


Among Us creator is among independent studios criticizing Unity’s move

Video game engine maker Unity has apologized after a furious response to its proposed new pricing plan.

The company behind the development tool said it wanted to charge studios every time a game created with it was installed.

Amid heavy criticism, the studios behind indie hits like Among Us, Slay the Spire and Cult of the Lamb threatened to abandon the technology in protest.

Unity has now said it will change the policy, but developers say they will have to work hard to regain trust.

An engine is a set of tools that handle elements like animation and audio that provide the foundation or framework for a game.

It’s possible to create one from scratch, but it’s complicated, so companies often use ready-made versions to save time.

Unity, along with Epic’s Unreal Engine, is one of the most widely used examples and is especially popular among smaller studios, but it also powers megahits like Pokémon Go and Genshin Impact.

From reaction to fall

Earlier this week, the company said it wanted to charge its customers a fee every time someone installed a game based on the engine.

It said the charge would only kick in once a game reached a certain number of downloads, but could rise to $0.20 (£0.16) at the top tier.

This sparked a swift and angry response across the gaming industry, with some studios threatening to switch to different engines even if it meant potential delays to new releases.

Garry Newman, creator of the popular Garry’s Mod and founder of Facepunch Studios, said the move had left people “furious”.

“That would be like Adobe charging all Photoshop users for image viewing,” he said.

The developers also accused the company of breaching their trust and raised questions about how the charge would be applied.

In particular, developers were concerned about being charged for installing pirated copies and the possible effect the promotion could have on a subscription service like Microsoft Game Pass.

This led Unity to issue a statement Last Thursday it clarified some conditions of its new rates in an attempt to calm the situation and insist that the “majority of developers” would not be affected.

Unity said it would make changes to its policy and share an update in the coming days.


Slay the Spire developer Megacrit released its first public statement criticizing Unity

Some notable independent developers warned that they would stop using Unity if it followed their plan, which would have a knock-on effect on their current projects.

Innersloth, the creator of Among Us, said it would have to “delay the content and features our players really want” to bring the game to a new engine.

In its first public statement, Slay the Spire creator Mega Crit said it had spent the last two years working on a new game in Unity.

Despite putting an “immense amount of time and effort” into that title, they said they would switch to a new engine if the changes were not abandoned.

Aggro Crab, creator of the quirky hit Going Under, said abandoning Unity would also mean losing the “great experience” he had gained using the platform.

And Massive Monster, creator of Cult of the Lamb, said the change would mean “significant delays” to future releases.

He signed his statement urging Unity to “stop being a stinker.”

On Thursday, Unity said it was forced to close two of its offices after receiving “credible” death threats, according to Bloomberg reporter and Triple Click podcast host Jason Schreier.

It was less clear whether the creators of major Unity titles, such as Genshin Impact and Pokémon Go, would be affected.

Niantic, the maker of Pokémon Go, told BBC Newsbeat that it could not comment on the situation at this time.

We’ve also contacted Microsoft to ask if Game Pass downloads will be affected and Valve, owners of the Steam game store.

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