Counting game installs – a cornerstone of Unity’s upcoming Runtime Fee – hasn’t been “completely figured out”, someone claiming to be an employee writes.
Unity’s recently-announced Runtime Fee will charge developers each time someone installs a copy of their game. The amount charged per install varies from a fraction of a cent to 20 cents, and the threshold at which those Runtime Fee charges kick in also has different thresholds depending on what version of Unity a developer uses and how much revenue their game has made.
It’s all quite complicated, and has, so far, been incredibly controversial. It’s rare to see the games industry unified over anything, but the condemnation of Unity’s Runtime Fee is widespread – and the number of developers who’ve said they’re planning to ditch the engine is steadily growing.
More perplexingly, there are also claims that Unity has announced its pricing policy – due to begin on 1 January 2024 – before the infrastructure to launch it is even in place. Some have asked on social media how exactly Unity will precisely track the number of installs a game has amassed; according to someone claiming to be a Unity employee, Unity allegedly hasn’t figured that part out yet, either.
“Current Unity employee here,” a poster calling themselves incredulous wrote on Unity’s forum (and shared by Twitter/X’s MaxKriegerVG). “I feel compelled to post something because I’m completely appalled at some of the initial choices for this new pricing model and most importantly at the poor and confusing communications around it.”
Incredulous then went on to lay out exactly what the Runtime Fee means “In plain English”, before going on to clarify a few “key points” that have “changed since the initial announcements.”
The most telling part reads, “Unity hasn’t completely figured out how to count installs yet. Whatever the solution is, it will be conservative. It will potentially/probably undercount installs, but definitely not overcount.” (That emphasis is the original poster’s.)
While we can’t verify whether incredulous is a genuine Unity employee, their post chimes with some recent Twitter/X posts by George Broussard, the head of 3D Realms.
“Here’s a big concern,” he writes. “How will Unity track installs? I’ve heard internally, ‘we will estimate'”.
Broussard then referred to a tweet by Unity itself, which simply states, “We use our own proprietary data model” to count installs. “We won’t go into a lot of detail,” the tweet continued, “but we believe it gives an accurate determination of the number of times the runtime is distributed for a given project.”
Broussard then notes just how much heavy lifting the words, “we believe” undertake in that tweet. “So yeah, proprietary tool estimating,” he writes. “With fairy dust.”
To date, Unity hasn’t revealed precisely how it will count those installs, or how transparent it will with that data and how it was collated.