Unity apologises for ‘confusion and angst’ over Runtime Fee and promises changes

Armstrong and Miller Coach and Horses sketch

After an extraordinary outpouring of anger from developers, Unity has said it will make changes to its Runtime Fee policy.

Last week saw some remarkable scenes when Unity announced a new ‘Runtime Fee’, where Unity developers would be charged every time a user installed one of their games. Developers were soon up in arms about the new policy, pointing out cases in which it could be abused, or fearing that it could be ruinous for their business.

A long list of developers, including Slay the Spire makers Mega Crit, said they were considering abandoning using Unity for their upcoming games in light on the Runtime Fee policy. Confusion reigned as studios weren’t sure how the install fee would affect things like Game Pass and charity bundles. Unity hurriedly stepped in to try to add clarifications, but even then, key tenets of the policy remained unclear, such as how Unity would actually count installs.

All in all, it was something of a communications disaster, the like of which hasn’t been seen since the disastrous reveal of the Xbox One ten years ago.

Early this morning, Unity issued an apology for the whole affair. “We have heard you,” the company said in a tweet. “We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.”

It’s unclear what the changes to the policy might be at this stage. As I concluded in my opinion piece last week, the Runtime Fee is “unfair, impractical and seemingly unworkable” in the way it seeks to count installs, but it remains to be seen whether Unity will attempt to tweak the policy or simply scrap it in favour of something else, perhaps akin to Unreal’s 5% royalty fee.

What does seem clear is that Unity needs to make more money after years of accumulating losses, so whatever happens, the game engine is likely to cost more in the years to come. Brendan Sinclair has done an excellent write up on the whole affair over at GamesIndustry.biz that I’d encourage you to read.

In the meantime, enjoy this Armstrong and Miller sketch from a few years back.

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