Changes To Controversial Unity Policy Leak Ahead Of Announcement [Update]

Changes To Controversial Unity Policy Leak Ahead Of Announcement [Update]

UPDATE 19/9/23 8:27 am: Bloomberg reports that Unity has briefed staff on changes to its runtime policy intended for announcement in the coming days. According to Bloomberg, Unity is expected to limit install fees to 4% of a game’s revenue for customers making over $US 1 million. Further, Bloomberg understands that installations counting toward that threshold will not be added retroactively, and that the company is considering a cap on any potential fees.

More to come.

Original story continues below.

Unity has apologised following a week of confusion and turmoil around a new runtime fee policy the company announced last Tuesday.

The broad strokes of the policy changes (as they currently stand) are that developers who use the popular Unity game development toolkit will be charged a fee every time their game is installed beyond a certain threshold. According to Unity, those in partnership with larger platforms — like Xbox Game Pass or Apple Arcade — would pass this fee on to the platform holders.

The policy’s announcement went down like a lead balloon, particularly among independent developers, for whom money is a constant pressure. The blowback on social media was as swift as it was widespread, which only worsened as Unity avoided questions about exactly how it was auditing and monitoring installations.

Things worsened again when it was revealed Unity CEO John Riccitiello sold around 2,000 shares in the company the week prior to the announcement. The company was then forced to close two of its offices following what it called “credible” death threats. It later emerged that these threats had, allegedly, come from a disgruntled employee.

Unity claimed Friday that there had been a misunderstanding and that the particulars of its new policies had not been communicated well enough.

It then spent the weekend pondering its next move before releasing an apology via its social media accounts on Monday morning.

“We’ve heard you,” reads the post. “We apologise for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.”

That last part is the bit that developers within the Unity ecosystem have been waiting for. A report by Jackson Ryan over at the ABC depicted an Australian game dev landscape blindsided by the policy changes, with many expressing confusion, concern, dismay, and anger at the situation. As a games development industry with many smaller creators, Unity is a popular toolset among Australian video game devs. Changes like the ones Unity outlined last week would be a crushing blow to a local scene only now securing reliable government funding.

Unity will disclose further policy changes in light of the blowback later in the week. Developers around the world wait to see what these changes will look like.

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