“It’s pure greed”: the developers tell us their thoughts on the Unity case

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“It’s pure greed,” explains Liam Edwards, game designer at Denkiworks, about the new policy of Unity, one of the most used engines in the indie scene, which has caused such a stir in the developer community in recent days. “It comes from a board that has no understanding of the services it provides.”

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On September 12, the company announced that starting in 2024, it would charge development teams a fee of 20 cents per install. The quota is activated once you reach a turnover of €200,000 in twelve months and a total of 200,000 installs – unless you had a Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise license: then the figure would be €1 million in twelve months and one million installations, with a probability of 15-02 cents in the first case, 12.5-01 cents in the second case. Developers of free-to-play titles could have placed ads in their games to avoid payment.

What’s causing scandal, in addition to the ongoing policy change, are the terms of the new agreement: if a player uninstalls the game and reinstalls it, it’s worth two installs and therefore two payments, and the same goes for the game installation. same copy to two different devices.

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A few hours later (it was already September 13 in Italy), the predictable reverse happened after the outbreak of controversy on social media, where dozens and dozens of independent developers, from the smallest to the largest, and even some publishers revealed plans to close their activities Cancel. Unity-based games will be released at the end of this year. The new terms, which are still valid at the time of writing, stipulate that only the first installation will trigger payment, excluding demos and downloads on Game Pass.

The installation costs —

But the controversy hasn’t gone away and, predictably, won’t until Unity announces a complete about-face on its intention to charge for every (initial, in this case) installation. Game development is not a process that takes months, but often years for large teams, not to mention smaller teams and individuals working for themselves. As a result, stability is a necessary requirement for this community, and when their main business tool suddenly announces that their earning potential is lower than ever, it’s not hard to see why the creators are so frustrated.

“How can you plan your business around the tools you’ve invested in for years if the company providing them could wake you up one day with an announcement that could literally take thousands of dollars off your revenue?” Edwards asks. “How do you plan something like that? The reality is that you can’t, so the only option is to shut down that service.” Unity’s proposed “per install” fee contained dozens of flaws that developers immediately recognized, and if Unity sticks strictly to its plan, it will probably come to the same conclusions as the developers – only through the rough edges.

“The first thing I thought was, ‘Holy shit,’” says Tomas Sala, director of Bulwark: Falconeer Chronicles. “Anyone who works in the industry knows that installations mean nothing. Demos are installed, players install games hundreds of times, and we ourselves give keys to charity – we organized a charity bundle for Ukraine and asked each developer to give away 10,000 keys – so 10,000 keys, poof. The number of installations they mention is therefore easy to reach.”

“People will pack their bags and leave” –

“And in mobile games, there are a lot of cheap games that have a cost per install, and then you make a little money from advertising,” Sala continues. “It is clear that the CEO of Unity e [i dirigenti] they come from an advertising background, so they think that for every game installed there is someone making money from advertising. You could say that it is a measure that says something about turnover [potenziali]but for anyone who makes premium games it’s ridiculous.”

So the only question to ask is what developers and creators will do if the situation doesn’t change, and Sala sees only one option if things stay like this: “people will pack their bags and leave.” “I don’t like that about it […] The way they frame the problem as if it only affects rich developers who make over a million dollars. I don’t think it’s true,” says Sala. “And even those developers, like the people at Among Us and others, are saying, ‘This is not how we want to do business or how we want to be treated. We don’t work for Unity. Unity works for us. We buy the [suo] Product”.

Stronghold Unity case

And Edwards thinks the same way: “many developers talk about how ‘trust’ [nei confronti di Unity] has now been lost, and that’s actually the worst part,” Edwards explains. “Not only are the costs bad, but so is the fact that a service that is accessible and used to bring so many new developers into the industry can change so much overnight.” “We are waiting to see how far these withdrawals will go and what the pricing and reimbursement restructurings will be,” Edwards continues. “The sad reality is that game development is already so difficult that jumping is not necessarily an option. That’s why Unity knows it can get away with it and knows developers have to make it right.”

Unit like Autodesk? —

All Unity projects that have been in development for several years and may launch late this year or early next year are suddenly facing affected profitability. And it is already a very serious indication that publisher Devolver Digital posted an ironic tweet in which he asks: “Absolutely include the engine you use in your pitches. This is important information!”.

“It always comes to my mind […] Autodesk. Twenty years ago, Maya and 3ds Max were the standard, taught in universities and art schools. Everyone learned Maya, the tool used to enter the world of film, video games and other things,” Sala explains. “Now Blender is taught because it’s free, and Autodesk did terrible things to its customers – similar to what Unity is doing in its new approach – and people left at the first opportunity.” “What is Autodesk now? It is one of the players, but no longer the leader in the sector. And I think this can happen with Unity too.”

Interviews by Dave Aubrey, additional reporting by Paolo Sirio for GLHF

Source: Gazzetta It

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