Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

author:Southern Metropolis Daily

The uproar over Unity's new charging rules has finally made the latest progress.

Just 11 days after the new rules were promulgated, less than 2 weeks later, Unity officials conveniently issued an open letter to adjust the "pay per install" strategy again.

Development with the personal version will not charge installation fees, directly free; Fees for the Professional and Enterprise editions will be increased. At the same time, developers after 2024 can also choose between two payment methods: a 2.5% revenue share, or a fee based on the number of new players entering the game each month. The specific data in both methods is reported by the developer.

However, the community as a whole is not buying it. Underneath Unity's September 23 open letter, the vast majority of comments are still scrutinizing the new rules word for word, and dissatisfaction is palpable.

In the domestic knowledge Q&A platform Zhihu, when this new regulation was first exposed on September 12, it accumulated 600+ answers and more than 7 million views in a short period of time. But by the time Unity officially apologized and adjusted its strategy, there were fewer than 30 answers to the questions, and the number of views was more than 60,000.

Whether this represents a loss of interest in Unity will take time to tell. But at least one thing is certain – this game engine, once the first choice of game developers, with a top-notch community atmosphere and a large number of users around the world, has lost the trust of users.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days


Let's look at this incident from the beginning.

For a long time, the profit model of third-party game development engines has mostly charged membership fees, or on this basis, launched "Professional Edition" or "Enterprise Edition" with higher functionality and permissions, of course, higher fees. But on September 12, Unity officially announced a change in the charging model on the X platform without warning.

Starting January 1, 2024, developers will be charged based on "game installs".

The specific charging method is divided into different versions: the game developed in the personal and Plus versions has an annual revenue of $200,000, and after the number of installs reaches 200,000, Unity charges $0.20 for each additional install. The Professional and Enterprise editions generate $1 million a year and are charged per echelon after 1 million installations, ranging from $0.01 to $0.15.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

Source: Official Unity

This new fee model requires developers to constantly pay fees, and it will also involve games released before 2024. For some small developers and individual developers, once they cannot make $0.20 per player on average, then the operation of the game will lose money indefinitely, and even a ridiculous "the more popular the game, the more it loses money". As netizens said:

You can defeat a developer by reloading a game over and over again, which is amazing!

As soon as the new charging model was launched, it triggered strong criticism from the domestic and foreign developer communities. Some professionals have pointed out various loopholes in this new "pay per install" model:

How to distinguish between repeated installations of the same user in ordinary games? How are installs calculated for multiplatform games? How do I charge for games with a large installed volume, such as free games and web games? Clicking on the webpage counts as a download?

Unity officially says it will automatically detect the number of installs of the game, but from a technical point of view, whether it is to prevent malicious people from sending installation data, or to detect pirated installations, it is difficult to achieve at present. Then, the pricing core in the new model, the installation volume, is just a black box that Unity officials have the final say and cannot be verified by the outside world. In this case, if the game is pirated or maliciously swiped, then the developer is likely to go into debt for no reason.

The new charging model proposes that previously released games will also be charged, does this mean that the old version of Unity has implanted a data reporting module without the developer's knowledge? Is this a disguised violation of the relevant privacy regulations?


In short, once Unity's new rules were introduced, it swept the entire gaming world like a hurricane. First and foremost are game development teams large and small.

On the day the new rules were announced, the author of the game The Fall said:

The free game I released sold 7 million copies on the Epic Store, and I couldn't afford to make money in my lifetime!!
Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

Of course, it doesn't stop there. There are more than 50 public voices on the X platform alone. Among them, there are many popular games with many fans such as "AmongUs", "Mankind is defeated", "Killing Spire", "War Simulator" and so on. Nearly half of these game studios have expressed the intention of abandoning Unity for other game development engines. Some game development teams even directly decided to remove the game to prevent the game from selling too well and making ends meet.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

The development team of "Bleating Apocalypse" said that it will remove the game from the shelves on January 1

The storm intensified, and more and more people got involved. The founder of TGA, a video game award known as the Oscars of the gaming industry, openly said "what a joke"; Carnegie Mellon University professor and game developer said he wanted to co-developers and appeal together; Some people also said that the CEO of Unity just sold 2,000 shares of his own company last week, suspected that he was maliciously manipulating the stock price for insider trading, and has reported it to the Securities Regulatory Commission...

Unity CEO John Riccitiello was even exposed to death threats on September 15.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

The news was quickly confirmed by a subsequent announcement from all employees. On September 15, Unity officially announced that the CEO speech of the day was canceled, and uncomfortable employees could choose to work from home and close two offices in Texas and San Francisco.

Subsequently, foreign media Polygon reporter Nicole Carpenter reported that the San Francisco Police Department has now confirmed that it was Unity's own employees who made the death threat. According to YouTube blogger Bellular News, the Sept. 12 rule was a decision by the CEO and PR department, and the technology that the announcement called "tracking the number of installs" was not yet complete or even notified to the technology department — which may be why the "death threat" came from within.


"Death Threats" failed to earn tears for Unity. Under the wave of condemnation from all walks of life in the game circle, the overseas social forum Reddit's annual "Game Circle Bastard of the Year Award" kicked off, this time, Unity CEO John interrupted Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who won the championship for the first time.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

At the same time, this wave of wealth, although it came without warning, was still pouring riches began to be harvested by Unity's competitors -

UE, Cocos, Godot and many other game engines have begun to soar in popularity.

In particular, Godot, a cross-platform 2D/3D open-source game engine launched in 2014, directly topped the GitHub Trends list just days after the new regulations were introduced on September 12. Videos at home and abroad, such as "Teach you to get started with Godot" and "How to switch from Unity to Godot", have also begun to explode.

"Even if Unity does change, I'll still switch to UE and Godot engines — they're cheaper, and the decision-makers look more stable." A domestic game developer said.

Unity charges the beginning and end: from head engine to bastard of the year, in just 11 days

On September 18, Unity announced that it would change its charging policy in a few days, "apologizing" to users. The comment area said, "Your best way to apologize is to fire your CEO", "Even if you change, no one will trust you anymore", "Now it's your turn to pay for us".

On September 23, Unity officially released an open letter, announcing their new plans after changing -

Unity Personal will continue to be free and there will be no more installation fees.

For Unity Pro and Enterprise editions, only games using the 2024 LTS version of Unity will be charged an installation fee, and existing games that have been released and those currently under development are not included. Fees will be raised from $100,000 to $200,000, and games that earn less than $1 million in 12 months will not be charged.

After 2024, game developers can choose two ways to pay: a 2.5% revenue share, or a fee based on the number of new players entering the game each month. In both ways, "game revenue" and "new players" are only required by the developer to report, and Unity will choose the lower of the two to charge a fee.

From the perspective of popularity alone, the number of likes on the X platform of the new charging model is not as good as half of the "preview change" tweet a few days ago, and the discussion degree of major domestic platforms has fallen sharply.

Among the remaining users, some people must carefully pick the details of the new rules, some conspiracy theories are "Musk wants to buy Unity", so maliciously manipulate the stock price, and some finally leave a sigh -

"Trust is a non-renewable resource."

Written by: Nandu reporter Yang Bowen