back to article Unity closes offices, cancels town hall after threat in wake of runtime fee restructure

The backlash against Unity runtime fees has been so extreme that the game engine company felt the need to cancel a town hall meeting and close two offices after receiving a "threat," reportedly from an employee. As reported by our sister publication DevClass, Unity dropped a bombshell on its developer community earlier this …

  1. DJV Silver badge

    Damn!

    And there was I ready to launch my Unity-based game all about the fine pastime of foot shooting!

    1. bjzq888

      Re: Damn!

      The proliferation of modern programming languages which seem to have stolen countless features from each another sometimes makes it difficult to remember which language you're using. This guide is offered as a public service to help programmers in such dilemmas.

      C

      You shoot yourself in the foot.

      Assembly Language

      You crash the OS and overwrite the root disk. The system administrator arrives and shoots you in the foot. After a moment of contemplation, the administrator shoots himself in the foot and then hops around the room rabidly shooting at everyone in sight.

      C++

      You accidentally create a dozen instances of yourself and shoot them all in the foot. Providing emergency medical care is impossible since you can't tell which are bitwise copies and which are just pointing at others and saying "that's me, over there."

      FORTRAN

      You shoot yourself in each toe, iteratively, until you run out of toes, then you read in the next foot and repeat. If you run out of bullets, you continue anyway because you have no exception processing ability.

      Algol

      You shoot yourself in the foot with a musket. The musket is aesthetically fascinating and the wound baffles the adolescent medic in the emergency room.

      COBOL

      USEing a COLT 45 HANDGUN, AIM gun at LEG.FOOT, THEN place ARM.HAND.FINGER on HANDGUN.TRIGGER, and SQUEEZE. THEN return HANDGUN to HOLSTER. CHECK whether shoelace needs to be retied.

      Full list at:

      https://www-users.york.ac.uk/~ss44/joke/foot.htm

      1. Captain Scarlet
        Devil

        Re: Damn!

        Nice to see people still have such websites :D

      2. MiguelC Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Damn!

        lisp

        You shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds the gun with which you shoot yourself in the appendage which holds...

        This one is pure genious!

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damn!

        Ha - love the assembly one.

        Back in the early days of 80386 assembly work (when we had just got the 386's and 486s), I had that epic Microsoft book that covered what you placed in what registers and the interrupts you could then call. All was working well, until I got the number wrong and missed (or added - can't remember now) the "h".

        Ran the code expecting one thing and the hard disk light went permanently on.

        Quickest switch off ever, hoping that I hadn't just overwritten a load of boot sector or tables on the main hard disk.

      4. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. RAMChYLD
      Pint

      Re: Damn!

      At least your game just isn't released yet.

      Massive Monster and Devolver Digital has threatened to pull Cult of the Lamb from sale once the day rolls around. And probably this wouldn't be the only one, we're maybe going to lose both Subnautica titles, and many other titles written in Unity as well.

      A lot of other Unity based projects (including Planet Crafter, which I bought Early Access) will probably cease development and get cancelled. The worst thing is we will probably never get our money back from this madness.

      Beer, I need one after all this because I put money into The Planet Crafter.

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: Damn!

        I have no skin in this game, but…

        Isn’t the more obvious solution for game developers to change their model to charging for downloading the game? Instead of Freemium and Microtransaction bollox? You know, like it used to be? Then, their charging model matches Unity, solves the problem. Surely charging £2 for a game, and paying $0.10 for the the engine that underlies it, “just works” as a business model.

        The problem developers have is getting a million downloads, but only 1% of its players want to pay £5 for premium content. That’s the budget which doesn’t close, if developers are paying per download. If nobody wants to pay £2 for your amazing game, isn’t that the underlying problem….too many me-too’s that aren’t actually different enough to be interesting?

        I’m sure the developers are going to say “yeah, but games are expected to be free, this is the universe we live in”. And for any individual dev, that’s true. But Unity are big enough to change this attitude. Maybe.

      2. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Damn!

        So, as someone who has bought multiple Unity-based games... Unity-based games which are presumably going to get pulled from sale on Steam and disabled on my computer...

        When is the class-action lawsuit against Unity starting? Because they're going to be damaging me with this move.

  2. RobLang

    CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

    The very idea of charging per install is lunacy. No-one with any technical knowledge cleared that as a good idea and Unity saying that they "have proprietary tech" for dealing with it is essentially implying they've solved the problem with privacy. Not to mention Xbox game pass installs (who foots that bill? Microsoft?). Although I've been working on my game for 4 years in my spare time, I'll be moving away from Unity with great sadness.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

      So, something to note here:

      This new rule kicks in January 1st.

      Unity, if it's like most other companies, ends their fiscal year on the last day of February.

      Last November, two investment companies (Silver Lake and Sequioa Capital) agreed to invest around one billion dollars into the company.

      This is a play to make it look like the company is making increased revenue before the end of their fiscal year; and while it will, in the long term it will cost the company dearly, not including the mountain of bad PR it's already generating.

      I expect that after the new fiscal year starts, the executive team of Unity will jump ship before the effects of this horrible decision (and the inevitable lawsuits) come home to roost.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

        Someone will start shorting the stocks I bet.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

          Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

          Might be worth seeing if any large sales happened just ahead of the announcement!

          Or it could be a prelude to a buy-out - Unity will far cheaper now.

        2. RAMChYLD

          Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

          Funny you should mention that.

          https://kotaku.com/unity-developer-fee-installs-john-riccitiello-sold-stoc-1850834439?fbclid=IwAR3-0tAfvKTJDS2bBSFB0vYPwl__whGyHga6QMEp-9rAVKfzy9HL4Bb3ae8

          1. Frank Bitterlich

            Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

            I don't know too much about stock market stuff – but isn't that the very definition of insider trading?

      2. Robert 22

        Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

        So this is just the time honored practice of eating one's future.

    2. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

      The very idea of charging per install is lunacy.

      It's Riccitiello, so it's just business as usual really. Not sure anyone really believed his "how do you do, fellow gamers" shtick when he was trying to bolster EA's coffers by blatantly ripping off its customers.

    3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

      The very idea of charging per install is lunacy

      And also strongly implies that Unity is gathering data from your PC and sending it back to HQ. Else, how would they know whether it's a fresh install on a new device or a re-install?

      1. Justthefacts Silver badge

        Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

        How does *the game developer* know that, anyway? Unless, you’ve decided that you don’t care, because you’ve given it away for free.

        In that case, the game devs business model is either advertising (ZOMG Privacy Apocalypse), or Microtransactions (ZZOMGG card data stored forever, Privacy Zombie Apocalypse). Both those charging models can die, for all I care. If it’s neither, then it’s a hobby, and while that’s lovely for you, you aren’t actually a customer because you aren’t giving them any money)

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predicted

          The two basic methods of non-crazy license checking are to provide the user with a license code which can be validated by the software and not really checking how many times the code has been used, I.E. the honor system and assuming that people will pay for access instead of sharing someone else's code*, or using an online system which uses an account system to limit activated licenses. Neither will tell components how many installs are there, and since the number of installs would also count people who installed but never activated (free trial users, planned to buy but then forgot I installed, or any other reason), even hooking Unity up to that activation server wouldn't count installs for them.

          * Yes, that honor system method is used and does work. I have bought software on a few occasions, and several of them have used a method where some token of mine is signed with their private key and that is my license. This is my favorite method of activation, since even if their servers shut down and they don't care about me, I can still use the software. If I know that's the license system, I'm much more likely to buy it, having had some negative experiences with more aggressive license checks. It doesn't help count the number of times I've installed or whether I'm still using it now, since the activation was local.

    4. Justthefacts Silver badge

      Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predict

      Lunacy? Why?

      “Implying they’ve solved the problem with privacy”. What problem? Sorry, I genuinely don’t understand. In the wider world, people buy stuff online, with either debit cards or PayPal, and that’s the end of the matter. What’s so special about games?

      1. flayman Bronze badge

        Re: CEO contempt of users ends badly as predict

        "What’s so special about games?"

        The model is typically that when you pay for a game it's in your library and you can install it on any device. This is how it works with Steam and every other platform I know of. You can only be logged in and playing a game on any one device. The game developer doesn't make money on each install. Steam doesn't make money on each install. And yet Unity expects to charge for each install. It will break the model. Unless customers have to pay a fee to install a game on a new device, the cost to the game dev is unpredictable and unmanageable. So this probably means that games built on Unity will be distributed differently, perhaps with license keys and a key manager. With this type of model, I'd expect the key to be removable and reusable.

  3. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    FAIL

    "we're not gauging but we're charging"

    Yeah, and drug dealers always give the first hit free.

    This is just another bait-and-switch. Once Unity was certain that theirs was the market standard, boom! time to turn the screws.

    Kind of makes you wonder just what the other "open" toolboxes have in store.

    We're going to end up with a saying : beware the open-source developer bringing gifts.

    1. karlkarl Silver badge

      Re: "we're not gauging but we're charging"

      > beware the open-source developer bringing gifts

      What about Unity was ever open-source? Their test suite and a few sample projects perhaps.

      I hope those Adobe Flash developers who jumped onto Unity and now have to jump onto the next thing *actually* choose open-source rather than a strong marketing department this time!

      I wish them luck! ;)

    2. ZenaB

      Re: "we're not gauging but we're charging"

      Well, Humble and Godot (open source engine!) are straight in there - https://www.humblebundle.com/software/everything-you-need-to-know-about-godot-4-encore-software

    3. joeldillon

      Re: "we're not gauging but we're charging"

      'Open' in the older sense of 'open standards'. If it were actually open source this wouldn't be possible.

  4. karlkarl Silver badge

    This license change is mostly for Microsoft as a value added incentive.

    In about half a year, Microsoft will buy Unity to go along with their other "portfolio" related investments (GitHub, LinkedIn).

    Microsoft Unity has a nice ring to it.

    1. RAMChYLD
      Alien

      I saw this coming too. A variant of the Nokia schtick.

      Microsoft has a lot of reasons to want Unity. They don't own a general purpose game engine like Epic do. Unity is also built around .NET and Mono, and natively logic code must be written in C#. And it ties into visual studio very tightly. XNA and UWP support is also just a click away. Basically, Unity was Microsoft's bitch the moment it was born.

      Crashing the company and having Microsoft buy it is just the simplest way of avoiding the Flying Turkey Courier from interfering (not like they would care, I expect Micro$oft has had people in there for years given their indifference to Edge being bundled with Window$ and the entire M$ going on a spending spree and buying up ActiBlizz as well as Double Fine and many smaller indie devs)

  5. chuckufarley Silver badge
    Coat

    I guess they have been rebranded...

    ...because their customers are calling them "Punity" now.

    1. Anonymous IV

      Re: I guess they have been rebranded...

      > ...because their customers are calling them "Punity" now.

      Surely ImPunity?

      1. chuckufarley Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: I guess they have been rebranded...

        something something...every action has an equally opposing reaction...something something.

  6. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    On false equivalences

    It's somewhat akin to Adobe, which is already expensive software, waking up one day and deciding it requires a slice of all revenue generated where PhotoShop, Premiere Pro, After Effects etc were involved in the production of that good or service. Or a more mundane example – a tool manufacturer taking royalties from any house purchase where its hammers were used in construction.
    I can understand the reaction of the community, especially if Unity itself said it would never go down this path, but I don't believe it is akin to the examples you gave. When you produce an image with Photoshop, or a movie with Premiere, or build a house with a hammer, the resulting product doesn't contain Photoshop or Premiere or the hammer. Unity is more than simply a development tool because games and other software that run on Unity also contain Unity.

    1. Helstrom

      Re: On false equivalences

      Have an upvote. I came to say the same thing. While I love a good hyperbolic table flip as much as the next guy, we do need to acknowledge that Unity binaries/technologies are redistributed with the games. I'm not saying what Unity is going is good or bad - just indicating that a redistribution royalty is not uncommon in the software industry and is not the same as using a hammer to build a house.

      1. georgezilla

        Re: On false equivalences

        " ... just indicating that a redistribution royalty is not uncommon in the software industry and is not the same as using a hammer to build a house. ... "

        But if I leave, or sell, a hammer used in building the house? Then the hammer mfg. can charge the homeowner for the hammer? And if more then one person in the house uses the hammer they can charge them also? How about the next person that owns the home?

        1. parrot

          Re: On false equivalences

          An analogy is used to make something relatable and intuitive, to help another person understand.

          Yes if you work very hard and include the right clauses, the hammer analogy could be made to work. But it might begin to sound more like a riddle!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: On false equivalences

        Redistribution royalties are not common in the game engine industry, and also not common in most areas of the software industry. Ever asked Microsoft if you have to pay for their C++ redistributable libraries, or to use DirectX? (Hint, the cost is $0)

        "Not the same as a hammer", well of course not, that's part of an "analogy".

        1. Bill 21

          Re: On false equivalences

          In the 80's there were lots of libraries that had royalties. It was a nightmare to track, especially when software went into PROMs and could be stuffed away in cupboards and drawers where it's existence could become ambiguous. It was a major influence on the impulse to move to pay-once-per-lifetime-anonymous-seat (whatever that's called), open source or shareware equivalents.

          1. druck Silver badge

            Re: On false equivalences

            Yes, things such an a whatever-they-were-called-before-ActiveX text grid with build in edit control, easy to use but cost quite a bit up front and then wanted a per copy royalty on top - so wrote my own instead.

    2. Ace2 Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      Mind the distinction between the runtime and the full developer tool suite.

      Even companies like Cadence that charge 10X as much as Adobe recognize the need for free viewers etc.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: On false equivalences

      Then more like if the brick or cement company asked for a license fee per house built?

      Or perhaps more relevant, if Oracle asked for a license fee for every installation of an app that bundles the JRE… Minecraft being a prominent gaming example.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: if Oracle asked for a license fee

        Shhhhhh.... Don't tempt them.

        1. Not Yb Bronze badge

          Re: if Oracle asked for a license fee

          If Java had not been mostly open when they purchased Sun, it'd already be closed and subscription based.

    4. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      games and other software that run on Unity also contain Unity

      The question is how long it will be before that statement only makes sense in the past tense.

    5. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      The distinction is not as important as you claim. Of course they contain some parts of Unity, because that's how a system like that has to work. They do not contain the part that developers were buying. I cannot get a game built on Unity and use that to make my own, nor is the Unity runtime included in one useful to me in any way other than running the game that included it.

      My comparison would be to a compiler. If I buy a commercial compiler and make a binary from code I wrote, there will be some stuff from the compiler in the binary. It will have some of its own runtime functions. It will almost certainly have optimization routines that are now copied into my binary since that's probably why I bought one instead of using Clang. That is also the entire point of the compiler; if it didn't do that, it would be worthless. Unity without the runtime is also worthless.

      The comparison between compilers and hammers isn't that ridiculous either. In both cases, they're tools that you use to make something else which function in one easily understood way. Unity exists to build programs that run with its runtime and nothing else. Since there is no other way to use it, then that is the expected method of using the tool. Hammers and Unity are more similar than you're claiming.

    6. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      Yes, but when Flash was a thing, the runtime was free to install.

      Also, it is less important now because there are alternatives, but their PDF reader is free.

      1. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: On false equivalences

        Free, frequently updated, and if they're not careful, will soon have enough code paths to be a similar security risk to Flash.

        Adobe loves feature creep so so much.

        1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

          Re: On false equivalences

          Well it was important to include as many virus vectors as possible. After all, everyone demanded JavaScript and HTML embedding in a bloody portable document format...

    7. flayman Bronze badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      This is quite true, whatever you think of this move by Unity. The engine continues to function when the game runs. It is an integral component. This is a daft analogy.

    8. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      On a side shift, the justification that Adobe, MS (office) and a HUGE amount of industry software house charge so much, is they EXPECT you to be making money off it, so effectively you are paying the fees in advance.

      Really it would be like saying if Photoshop was FREE, then they would want a cut.

    9. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: On false equivalences

      When you produce an image with Photoshop, or a movie with Premiere, or build a house with a hammer, the resulting product doesn't contain Photoshop or Premiere or the hammer.

      s/hammer/nail

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    an employee made a threat towards his employer using social media

    Guess it's Game Over for him then. Should shut the boss up too, as he turned out to be employing the biggest fucking idiot of them all.

  8. aerogems Silver badge
    Windows

    On the one hand

    Regardless of your opinion on this matter, making threats serious enough they need to call the cops and shut offices is not how you handle things in a civilized society.

    That said, I have zero empathy for Unity. As a coworker of mine put it [about a completely different situation]: They thought it would be a great idea to shoot their foot off, now they're complaining about how much it hurts. The CEO who came up with this brilliant idea seems like a 1980's Gordon Gecko sort of executive who only cares about profits today, even if it means robbing future profits, and represents pretty much everything wrong with modern corporate culture. I'm sure the brilliant thinking went somewhere along the lines of only thinking about large games like Genshin Impact or others that have managed to strike it rather big and won't realistically be able to go anywhere. In the process they're going to lose a lot of the smaller games that may not make a lot of money, but do serve as advertising for the game engine. I seem to recall seeing that the game Cult of the Lamb will voluntarily delist from all game stores as soon as this policy goes into effect. I'm sure there are plenty of others that will do the same whether they make a public announcement or not.

    I hope the authors of business books are paying attention, because you could probably teach an entire class around this example of what not to do. Rarely does the universe provide you with such a perfect case study that is as easy to understand as a made-up example, but is also something that actually happened.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: On the one hand

      I don't use or care about Unity in any case. If they're truthful about the threat's severity and needing to call in the police, then it is never justified to make such a threat. I must admit that, having read this article and no other ones, I did start to wonder if they had some other reason to close the offices. The only thing that suggests otherwise to me is that they say they called in the police. Had they not, I would have expected that they expected some protests and made up a fake threat to either prevent them showing up on camera or pretend that those complaining were more dangerous. Please understand that I'm not saying this happened, and with the statements they've made, I think the chances are lower. However, I get a bit suspicious when a company does something stupid and then finds some other problem they won't give details about.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      On the other hand

      I hope the authors of business books are paying attention, because you could probably teach an entire class around this example of what not to do how to do it.

      FIFY. Riccitiello would be able to slay the beast, enjoy the feast, and continue the hunt elsewhere in case of local beast extinction, so he cannot lose.

      On the other hand, maybe some of the biggest client developers will still be making sufficient profits under the royalty model and pricing, and they may stick around because there is development cost barrier (and possibly a platform quality barrier) to developers changing to another platform.

      From the linked Unity terms of service announcement -

      Retroactive TOS changes: When you obtain a version of Unity, and don’t upgrade your project, we think you should be able to stick to that version of the TOS. In practice, that is only possible if you have access to bug fixes. For this reason, we now allow users to continue to use the TOS for the same major (year-based) version number, including Long Term Stable (LTS) builds that you are using in your project.

      Unwind that language, and they are saying they are only legally obligated to honor the per-seat pricing and TOS for the the particular binary version of Unity to which they were attached.

      It explicitly says long term bug fixes will be gratis, but only for that version. Elsewhere (Unity Long Term Support) the period of support is stated to be two years after the initial release date - and keep in mind that proving deficient quality of that LTS would be a very hard thing to do in court.

      Also keep in mind that even other platforms, who unlike Unity, use an open source license, do not completely isolate client develops from risk of cost hikes. At any time the platform team (or a well funded upstart or bigger player like MS or AMZ, who may also poach from the original team) can fork the source with a new partially or fully non-open source license and continue development with that, and then start hiking cost, provided they are offering something distinctive relative to the remaining open source fork.

      There are many business risks to consider for independent "downstream client" type software developers, or idealistically motivated upstream employees (like the threat poster) who may feel they are donating something extra in lieu of pay in exchange for honor. I certainly don't want to denigrate small independent developers and idealism - I admire them greatly (while deploring the threat of violence).

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        The big ones will leave rapidly too

        This isn't a "share of revenue". It's a flat charge per install for as long as the game is being sold.

        Even if you believe yesterday's version of the FAQ, it means the developer gets charged every time the end user replaces their device.

        You sell your game once, Unity charges you for it repeatedly. You can't budget - how many of your users will upgrade their hardware this month?

        Worse, freemium and ad-supported games make 1-2 cents per user. So they'll instantly make a massive loss if they trip the line, and cannot risk using Unity.

        So a huge swathe of devs are gone, instantly. That includes a lot of large dev houses - Pokémon Go is definitely well over the line. As written, this would bankrupt Niantic!

        And even if they've arranged a special deal, once the hoi polloi leave, there's no canaries finding bugs before they do, raising their costs and delaying releases.

        1. Ian Mason

          Re: The big ones will leave rapidly too

          C'mon, you can't say "the hoi polloi" in the reg comments section and not expect to get pulled up on it!

  9. Anonymous Anti-ANC South African Coward Bronze badge

    This is set to go down as one of the worst decisions ever taken - and future people will do well to heed the warning and lessons this offered.

    I will not be surprised if Unity goes all /dev/null

  10. Do Not Fold Spindle Mutilate

    Will Russian criminals turn this into a protection racket?

    Could a criminal demand money for not burning your game business to the ground? "Pay us money or we will use the millions of machines that we have control over to download and install your game causing you to owe millions to Unity." Instead of ransomware having to screw around with a users' files, the hack downloads and installs games as required by the command and control site. I'm not going to do it but an existing ransomware asshole might easily switch to this. If you don't have a million machines at your finger tips would a bluff still work?

  11. Ashentaine

    For perspective...

    The current CEO of Unity, John Riccitiello, is a former CEO of EA and came up with such amazing brainwaves in his tenure there as wanting to charge Battlefield 3 players a dollar every time they reloaded their guns in a match.

    https://www.resetera.com/threads/its-almost-a-decade-since-ex-ea-ceo-john-riccitiellos-we-ask-you-for-a-dollar-to-reload-remark.375684/

    The man is a total clown who is completely out of touch with the industry he works in, and seeing him drive Unity into the ground like this is both amusing and frustrating at the same time.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Serious world we live in

    I find it Unreal that we can not live in simple Unity.

    As Clausewitz might have said, even though you Cry in the Dark as you watch your Genie fade to be no more than an Irrlicht, do not give in to your Ogre. Take some Sage advice, wait patiently for Godot, enjoy a Marmalade sandwich and never lose the LÖVE.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A Serious world we live in

      Is that supposed to be some kind of joke? You don't make jokes about games!

      1. Sudosu Bronze badge

        Re: A Serious world we live in

        Gentlemen you can't fight in here, this is the war room!

  13. Chubango
    Facepalm

    Own goal after own goal

    Threats of any kind are never justifiable but it does put things slightly into perspective that the one calling the threats appears to have been a Unity employee.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Own goal after own goal

      Likely directed at the CEO and blown out of proportion

      1. ChoHag Silver badge

        Re: Own goal after own goal

        "He said what? I'm gonna go up there and beat some sense into him."

        "Fantastic! Now we can shut our show down and sidestep the bad PR we've just given ourselves with some police drama!"

        Definitely didn't happen like that. No sir.

        1. My-Handle

          Re: Own goal after own goal

          I spent a bit of time on the Ars Technica forum on this subject yesterday. A few posters there called this before it was known that it was an employee who made the threat.

          What's even more dumb is that the town hall meeting was largely going to be online (I mean, not like they can move all 8000 of their worldwide staff to their SF office). Even if they did have to close those two offices (which were about 1k miles apart) because of a post an employee made (who lives in a different state, btw), why do you need to cancel an online meeting? It only makes sense if they're trying to dodge the PR fallout.

          I also heard that a lot of Unity's own staff weren't informed about the change until it was publically announced, and a lot of them were highly annoyed about it. That sounds like another heavy incentive to use any excuse to hand to cancel that meeting.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Own goal after own goal

            The employees aren't stupid, they can see exactly what the medium term effect will be, and they'll be the ones paying the price.

            No customer is going to start a new project under these terms, so they've got perhaps two to three years before they cease to exist.

            And even if they row back all the way, nobody is going to trust Unity not to do something similar again unless the whole C-suite is removed.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Own goal after own goal

              "The employees aren't stupid, they can see exactly what the medium term effect will be, and they'll be the ones paying the price."

              Don't get angry, get out.

  14. TheMaskedMan Silver badge

    As levels of stupidity go, this is breathtakingly advanced Grandmaster stuff. Even the British government would struggle to surpass it!

    Sure, some developers will have little choice but to go along with it for now for existing games - those who don't pull their games offline, at least.

    But how many new games are going to use unity now? Quite apart from the cost, there's a matter of trust. Unity have said they absolutely wouldn't do this, and here they are doing it, and at bloody short notice, too.

    Nobody is going to trust them for a very long time - perhaps for longer than the company can survive without that trust. I'm not into games, but I assume that unity has technical advantages over the open source alternatives, or developers would be using them instead of unity already.

    But, with this move, unity have just created an angry army of developers who suddenly have time on their hands and a very personal interest in improving those alternatives. Definitely not a good move.

    1. Ian Mason

      > "As levels of stupidity go, this is breathtakingly advanced Grandmaster stuff. Even the British government would struggle to surpass it!"

      Jacob Rees-Mogg: Hold my claret!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Sadly I think you underestimate the stupidity of HM Government..

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Sadly I think you underestimate the stupidity of HM Government..

        To sum it up in two words:

        "Liz Truss"

        She managed to lose a huge chunk of money out of the economy (£45 bn?) and is still insisting that she was right, albeit a tad hasty..

    3. Probie

      I am fairly sure if you replaced “Unity” with “His Majesties Tory majority Government” and “developer” with “voter”, you would have written the seminal prophecy on the next election.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

        That would mean that 35% of users of Unity will just carry on, then, swearing that they can't see anything that isn't "just the same", and that switching would destroy the world?

  15. David Gosnell

    Unity Ads

    The main contact I seem to have with Unity is via the somewhat unavoidable (if into casual mobile gaming) Unity Ads, which appears essentially to be a pyramid scheme, whereby the only way apps can afford to advertise as they do is by containing millions of ads themselves, ad nauseam. If they're now also going to have to recoup these insane licensing costs, there really is going to be no functional app left between the ads.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: Unity Ads

      I've often wondered that - it seems that ALL android in-app ads (apart from some banner ads) are simply ads for other "free" games that earn money showing ads for other "free" games that earn money showing ads for other "free" games that earn money showing....

      1. Sudosu Bronze badge

        Re: Unity Ads

        Its ads, all the way down.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Unity Ads

      There's some indication that the goal was to force mobile developers to use the Unity advert platform, as they seem to be waiving the fee if you do.

      Of course, if it worked then that is a slam-dunk monopoly abuse case.

      And if it doesn't, the company dies.

      A strange choice.

  16. Luiz Abdala
    Joke

    If reloads were charged in Battlefield...

    ...players would be engaging in bayonet charges.

    Only snipers would be left using bullets for one month, tops, until they run out.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: If reloads were charged in Battlefield...

      One shot, one kill: now we know why.

    2. 9Rune5

      Re: If reloads were charged in Battlefield...

      Your knife, blunt from cutting paper airplanes in the mess hall, will now only inflict 10hp DMG. You spot a wisened old tool maker by the road. He offers to sharpen your knife for a nominal fee of $1. Knowing that your squad faces certain defeat if you don't have a sharp knife, you insert VISA / forfeit game

      Dear EA, I'm open for offers.

      1. Not Yb Bronze badge

        Re: If reloads were charged in Battlefield...

        Charging for reloads was definitely on the table at some point, but luckily people interested in making a game prevailed.

        1. Luiz Abdala
          Pint

          Re: If reloads were charged in Battlefield...

          That deserves several pints. Now those pint reloads are fair usage of currency.

  17. MegaSloth

    This feels like one of those bait and switch situations where they’ve come out with this stupid idea, then they will offer a still stupid bit less stupid idea which suddenly everyone will be relieved about yet so accept it. So I’m sure they will still increase prices in some fashion just not this exact method. Perhaps a few % per sale or the usual just increasing all prices method.

    1. My-Handle

      It could be, but even if true it has still generated a huge amount of mistrust and negative attention. Even if they walk back on it now (and I hope they do), there are going to be a huge number of developers who'll avoid them like the plague in the future, just in case they pull the stunt again and this time mean it. Any developer currently in the early stages of developing a game with Unity is going to be downing tools and looking at alternatives.

  18. Not Yb Bronze badge

    This might have some good effects...

    If there's a per-install fee to use Unity runtimes, then some of those overly profitable "free games" that just milk addictive personality types for all the money they're willling to spend may have to go away.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: This might have some good effects...

      Not at all, because those installs are all making a profit! It's the free games that are going to be stuffed. Anything making under 5¢ power install would, according to the graph I saw, be paying more to Unity than they made. However, that's after *22 million installs*, so... I still think it's a mountain out of a molehill. If you're not making money (more than 5¢) after 20 million installs, you're not a company you're a side gig.

      The obvious answer is to pull the game at 20 million installs - have a big "wrap party" and launch the sequel written on some other platform!

  19. CatWithChainsaw
    Black Helicopters

    Welcome to Capitalism

    Where you must keep growing your profits quarter after quarter, so once you've saturated one revenue stream you are obliged to create another.

    And for Unity's next trick, they'll demand "hours played" statistics for all published games that use their engine so they can take a per-hour-played cut!

  20. karlkarl Silver badge

    Where I used to work I wrote a C++ clone of the Unity 4.x API (so we could target the pluginless web via Emscripten a full 5 years before Unity): https://github.com/osen/mutiny

    I have just been told by some of the developers still working there that they have been maintaining / improving an internal copy over the years and are strongly considering going forward with it.

    Quite cool news!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. RAMChYLD

      You should reclaim this domain name and form "The Mutiny Foundation".

      I just twatted the project to Unknown Worlds, Massive Monster and Miju Games. I am hoping that as word spreads, we can get more people to work on bringing the engine back up to shape.

  21. CowHorseFrog Silver badge

    Why do companies insist on these fake family get togethers like town halls, are a cult ?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Because they believe that the hundreds of thousands of dollars they cost in aggregated time is worth it.

      Connect to the meeting, put it in the background, get on with some real work.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I intended to do just that in the office the other day, but got dragged by a senior manager to sit as part of a whole-office group gawping at a big screen of the same online twaddle-fest. Apparently it's better that you sit as an "in person group" in front of a screen, rather than multi-tasking on something useful to my employer and politely paying the call perhaps 1/32 of an ear. And in that horrible group gawping situation you're stuck on a chair for the duration. It's inhumane, you know.

        Predictably it was indeed a complete waste of everybody's time. At least if I'd been WFH I could have mowed the lawn. That would have been a win-win - I show up in Teams as having participated, my employers would be down on 45 minutes work as they intended, I'd have learned nothing from the call (true even if I had listened) and I'd have mowed the lawn and enjoyed sunhsine, some light exercise and fresh air.

  22. sixit

    Irony is Sweet

    Huh, wouldya look at that: just in time for those looking to flee Unity, Humble Bundle offer's a very large Godot software bundle! https://www.humblebundle.com/software/everything-you-need-to-know-about-godot-4-encore-software (training and resources, not actual software, though). Still, Unity will quickly find itself in the same dustbin as the *original* DIVX (player - look up the history) with this bone-headed move. The CEO needs to find another career; he's one of those greedy, inhuman scumbags that make capitalism worthy of disdain.

  23. Grunchy Silver badge

    People still buy games?

    The entire PS1,PS2,PS3 catalog is utterly hacked. So too NES, SNES, C64, Wii, XBox, XBox 360,N64, Atari 2600, Vectrex, countless arcade consoles. I still haven’t conquered colossal caves yet, it’s the damn little dwarf keeps coming out of nowhere and nailing me with Ax.

  24. EricB123 Bronze badge

    A Golden Opporunity Flushed

    "tool manufacturer taking royalties from any house purchase where its hammers were used in construction."

    Or American Standard collecting a royalty every time you flushed one of their toilets.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith Silver badge

      Re: A Golden Opporunity Flushed

      That's a far better analogy.

  25. garwhale Bronze badge

    Perhaps the CEO bonus is based on stock prices at the end of this financial year, so he can get $100 million but doesn't care about what happens to Unity, a bit like with CA.

  26. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I guess those (Microsoft?) providing tools to Unity should do the same thing then?

    Unity having to pay them fees for every single copy of Unity's products being sold.

    Or even better, introduce a clause that products being generated using the software development tools may not in themselves be software development tools. That would really screw Unity in a ironic way.

    It looks like Unity has got themselves one of these sociopath bosses that don't understand how normal people think, and they are probably at risk of extinction as a consequence.

  27. Binraider Silver badge

    Unity's IPO, followed by a stock dump and this announcement are too much of a coincidence to not be related.

    So, where's the court case for insider trading (at the very least)?

    A good friend of mine suggested that smaller devs reliant on Unity would do well to dump their software onto torrent while asking for donations if you install it. I have heard much, much worse ideas.

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