Gaming Industry Protests Unity Engine’s Controversial Pricing Overhaul
Indie games like Among Us, Cuphead, and Cult of the Lamb share a commonality: they are all developed using the Unity engine, a favoured tool among smaller studios. However, Unity’s recent announcement regarding a new pricing strategy has created concerns within the gaming industry. Unity, along with Epic’s Unreal Engine, is one of the most widely used engines in game development, providing essential tools for animation, audio, and more.
Unity’s new pricing strategy involves charging developers a fee every time a player installs a game built on the engine. This fee would apply once a game reaches a specific download threshold and could be as high as $0.20 per installation. The announcement prompted a strong backlash in the gaming community.
Garry Newman, the creator of Garry’s Mod and founder of Facepunch Studios, compared the move to Adobe charging Photoshop users per image view, describing people as “furious.” Developers expressed concerns about being charged for pirate copies and the impact on games promoted through subscription services like Microsoft Game Pass.
Unity responded with a statement clarifying some aspects of the new fees and emphasising that the “majority of developers” would not be affected. However, this clarification also faced criticism.
Several independent developers, including Innersloth (Among Us), Mega Crit (Slay the Spire), Aggro Crab (Going Under), and Massive Monster (Cult of the Lamb), warned that they might stop using Unity if the changes persisted. They highlighted potential delays in ongoing projects and the loss of expertise gained from using Unity.
The controversy surrounding Unity’s pricing changes has generated considerable anger within the industry and among gamers. Unity even faced security concerns, with two of its offices being temporarily closed due to “credible” death threats.
Unity is reportedly offering to waive the fee if developers join its advertising programme, but the situation remains complex. Games like Pokemon Go and Genshin Impact, which were developed using Unity, may or may not be affected. Niantic, the maker of Pokemon Go, could not comment on the situation at the moment. Efforts to clarify the impact on Microsoft Game Pass downloads and the Steam game store are ongoing.