The company has apologized for their recent fee fiasco.
Text: Unity

Unity president and general manager Marc Whitten issued an open letter on Friday where Whitten apologized for the recent "install fee" controversy. In addition to the apology, Whitten says that they are walking back some of the proposed changes that Unity initially revealed on September 12th.

The initial reveal on September 12th said that Unity would charge a new Runtime Fee, which would go into effect on January 1, 2024. This fee would have applied retroactively to any game that met the revenue and install thresholds. Thankfully, those plans have changed.

I want to start with this: I am sorry.

We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy. Our goal with this policy is to ensure we can continue to support you today and tomorrow, and keep deeply investing in our game engine.

You are what makes Unity great, and we know we need to listen, and work hard to earn your trust. We have heard your concerns, and we are making changes in the policy we announced to address them.‚Äč
Whitten now says that the Personal plan will remain free. Unity now also has no plans to charge the Runtime Fee for games built on the Unity Personal plan. Unity is now also increasing the amount of revenue that developers can make on titles made via the free version of their engine. The old limit was $100,000 (USD) and the new limit is now $200,000. Furthermore, the "Made with Unity" splash screen requirement is being removed.

Whitten continues to say that no game with under $1 million in revenues over a period of 12-months will have to pay the Runtime Fee. The Runtime Fee will also now only be applied to games using the newest long-time support (LTS) version of Unity. This release isn't planned to ship out until 2024. If you choose not to upgrade to the new version of Unity, you won't have to worry about the fees but you'll also miss out on new features and fixes to the engine.

Those Runtime Fees aren't going away completely though. Games that meet the criteria will have a choice of either doing a 2.5% revenue share or a "calculated amount based on the number of new people engaging with your game each month." Both the amount of revenue and new engagements will be self-reported by the developers, with the lesser amount being the one that is billed.

It now also sounds like publishers will be the ones tasked with paying the Runtime Fee when and if the time comes. Previously, Unity seemed to strongly suggest that it would be platform holders that would be stuck with the bill on the proposed Runtime Fees. Obviously, if you self-publish a game you make, you will be the one who needs to pay the additional fees to Unity.

So far, the response to these new changes are far more positive than the responses made to the initial announcement. Several developers have said that these new terms look reasonable, with most praising the fact that Unity dropped the whole bit about the fees being retroactive. For others, the Unity ship has sailed and no amount of backtracking or changes will be enough to earn back the lost trust with the engine maker.