back to article Unity apologizes, tweaks runtime install fees after gaming world outrage

Game engine maker Unity on Friday walked back part of its controversial plan to charge developers a fee based on the number of game downloads installed. In an open letter, Marc Whitten, who heads the outfit's Unity Create group, began with an apology, which is not entirely surprising given the fury in the Unity community. The …

  1. mostly average

    The damage is done

    The new terms sound downright reasonable, however the damaged trust is going to be nigh impossible to repair. Now everyone realizes they can pull a Darth Vader and alter the deal wherever they please. They're going to need to put some verbiage into their new terms to guarantee that they won't pull the rug. A sane dev would make any new terms apply only to the newest version of the software and phase out the old version. But that would require making newer versions more desirable, something an EA bean counter can't understand.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: The damage is done

      But "more desirable" might just be "works on Windows 12".

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The damage is done

      They are not particularly reasonable. They create a new problem (per-install fees), they come up with their own solution (DRM which the developer doesn't have any insight into), and they say to the developer "we're going to charge you this, trust us on this".

      How does it deal with uninstalls? Computers not being used for months? Hard drives dying, being changed then a new install? Android app storage being cleared? Nobody knows.

      If end customers have a licence to use their purchase on five devices as is usual now, they should just be more honest and raise their fee from x% of developer revenue on a game to y% from Unity 2024 onwards. That way the developer isn't trying to work out if they can afford the pricepoint vs average number of installs. There will be people grumbling of course but it still wouldn't be the mess we've just seen.

    3. breakfast Silver badge
      Stop

      Re: The damage is done

      I'm still very confused that they thought they could apply the new terms retroactively. Perhaps I don't understand legal matters but I was under the impression that if you have a contract with somebody you can't unilaterally decide to change the terms afterwards so that they have to give you more money. Maybe Unity had some smart workaround for this, but it feels like it would only take one company to challenge it in court (or start a class action) and they'd have ended up in a real legal morass.

      1. aerogems Silver badge

        Re: The damage is done

        If you read the license agreement on a lot of things, there's usually some clause at the very end that says the vendor can make changes to the agreement at any time, possibly even without notice. Of course if YOU want to alter the terms of the agreement in a similar fashion, too bad. I've always considered it to be problematic, because the core essence of contract law is that both sides are able to negotiate a mutually agreeable arrangement, but these days with click-wrap licenses, there's no opportunity for the other party to redline the contract and negotiate potential changes, but it would probably take someone challenging it in court and then you run into one of two scenarios. Either 1) it's an individual who couldn't reasonably afford to challenge it, or 2) a large company that doesn't want to spend the money on filing a lawsuit to challenge the terms.

    4. RichardBarrell

      Re: The damage is done

      Mobile games built on Unity will have to update to the newest version sooner or later because the Google Play Store and Apple App Store both introduce changes to requirements every couple of years. Complying with these usually requires you to update whatever framework you are building on and increase the target SDK version so that your app opts into newly changed defaults. This isn't unique to Unity: it also happens with React Native, Cordova, Flutter, Java/Kotlin and ObjC/Swift.

    5. teknopaul

      Re: The damage is done

      Nice to see companies getting hammered for greed.

      The C suite will still get their bonuses I'm sure, but it always warms my heart when con.co changes their terms and conditions and gets caught and punished.

      Unfortunately it's mostly innocent shareholders and not the execs that get the punishment this time

  2. b1k3rdude

    So Marc Whitten, ex-Xbox (right after a bunch of losses and mass-layoffs ), ex-Amazon, so another old white guy Marc Whitten... And good old trust-worthy John Ricattelo, the other old white guy loves Marc, cant sing Whittens's praises enough. Btw I am an old white guy, the irony isnt lost on me.

    His apology is hollow and worthless, I imagine people dont a flying f*ck if he is "actually or genuinly sorry, " for the sh*t storm he and his fellow execs created. As one prominant Unity dev put a while back, its too little too late.

    To quote 'Alhazred23' over on spacebattles.com - (https://forums.spacebattles.com/threads/unity-changes-fee-schedule-or-how-to-hurt-your-platform.1115228/page-18)

    "Unity say that folks can stay on prior TOS applicable to the version of Unity that they use, but they don't explain in the blog how prior TOS will be documented legally and for posterity. Unity also won't outright kill the install/engagement tracking, but instead promise to make it an option that devs can opt into, as an alternative to a 2.5% revenue share agreement, and they note that the metrics will be "self-reported" by the client. This is a similar scale walk-back as what WoTC did back when they ended up in the SAME situation, but everything will hinge on lawyers getting involved to set everything promised in stone. Unity also say nothing of the mysterious processes already imbedded in the runtime that phone home to Unity (personal note - I personaly block all games I play on my PC from talking to the internet for this very reason).

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never commit to a development tool that has strict online DRM. Just don't do it.

  5. xyz123 Silver badge

    They already TRIED to take money from devs, hoping Unity was too big to fail.

    They need to be made a severe example of, by big games porting away to other engines.

    You can 100% guarantee they are prepping other nickel and dime schemes to rip off devs, hoping they can sneak them through piecemeal.

    this walk-back is too little too late and Unity needs to be allowed to fall as an example to others.

  6. fromxyzzy

    Can't put the cat back in the bag. They're going to hemorrhage business now, and it looks like they won't be smart enough to realize their mistake and will react by pushing more nickel-and-dime schemes to make up for it. Que the death spiral.

    1. Vometia has insomnia. Again. Silver badge

      Yeah, Riccitiello in particular has made his career from nickel-and-diming gamers; not the exact phrase I would normally use myself but I've seen it so many times over the years when people talk about the chaos and annoyance he causes.

  7. Kurgan

    So they said "you'll never pay per install", then said "you'll pay per install", and now "you'll pay only a little per install".

    And this will make people happy because "ehi, they listened to our complaints".

    NO, THEY DID NOT.

  8. Ozzard
    Stop

    We were about to start a game on Unity. Now we're not.

    Too much uncertainty on future costs, therefore too much risk for our business model. We'll find a different approach - perhaps radically different.

  9. Snowy Silver badge
    Holmes

    They killed it dead.

    Use something else.

  10. flayman Bronze badge

    CEO should go...

    No ifs or buts. He destroyed all trust. Devs are fleeing. Share price got hammered. Absolute shit show.

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