Unity wants to charge devs a monthly fee per each game install.
Logo for the Unity video game engine.

A change in Unity's business model has been met with some harsh criticism from developers all over, with at least one calling it "an absolute fucking catastrophe."

Unity announced some major changes to the Unity Engine business model. This new model will introduce a new monthly to developers that charges them an additional fee based on each new game install. The model is set to begin on January 1, 2024.

Unity has been used in several major game releases over the past handful of years. We've seen it used for games like Cuphead, Citizen Sleeper, RimWorld, The Outer Wilds, Ori and the Blind Forest, and even Cities: Skylines. Unity previously allowed developers to use a royalty-free model that was built on subscription tiers. If a game pulled in under $100,000 in funding or revenues over a year, developers could stick to the free Unity Personal license. If a game made up to $200,000 a Unity Plus Subscription was required. Above $200,000 and a Unity Pro subscription (or better) was required.

Now, this new pricing change will add in an additional monthly "Unity Runtime Fee" per each new game install. This fee will apply for each re-install and each install made across multiple devices. This added fee will kick in for games that made $200,000 or more in the last 12 months and have at least 200,000 lifetime game installs. Those on the Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise license tiers will see these added monthly fees kick in after surpassing $1M in revenues and 1M in lifetime installs.

How much does Unity plan to charge per install? Unity Personal users will have to pay starting at $0.20 per new install over the 200,000 monthly threshold. Unity Pro and Enterprise subscribers will have to pay starting at $0.15 and $0.125 (respectively) for each copy above the 1M mark.

In addition to this, Unity says that they are discontinuing their Unity Plus subscription tier. This means that to go from Unity Personal to the next tier with more features will cost studios at least $2,000 each year. This is an annual increase of $1,600 compared to those that were using Unity Plus.

"It's an absolute fucking catastrophe and I'll be jumping ship to Unreal as soon as I can. Most indies simply don't have the resources to deal with these kind of batshit logistics. Publishers are less likely to take on Unity games, because there's now a cost and an overhead. How this is being tracked is super vague and feels half-thought-through. It seems open to review-bombing exploits, but in a way that actually costs developers. If someone buys a game on Steam and installs in on three machines, are Devs liable for three payments? If so, that sucks. Gamepass is suddenly a massive headache... the list goes on.

"It's all just utterly horrible, and they need to backtrack on this instantly or every Dev I know is likely jumping ship tomorrow.

"I have a couple of projects on the go in Unity right now and they're far enough along that changing engine isn't an option, and I get a sickly feeling in my stomach just thinking about this. A horrendous policy, presumably dreamed up by the money men. I'm legitimately quite angry. I've been using Unity for over 10 years, that's a lot of investment in a system I'm about to drop like a hot rock." - Dan Marshall of Size Five Games, creator of Lair of the Clockwork God & The Swindle in speaking to Eurogamer.
Other developers have shared their anger on Twitter and other social media sites.

As a reminder, Unity's current CEO is John Riccitiello. Riccitiello is perhaps best known for calling game developers "fucking idiots." Prior to Unity, Riccitiello took EA from a massive market cap of $17 billion (USD) down to just $5.6 billion over the span of six years as the company's CEO.