Unity, the game engine creator, has faced backlash for its recent decision to implement a “Runtime Fee” for game developers using their engine. This fee would be charged every time a game is installed and would apply to games that generated $200,000 or more in revenue from January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, and had at least 200,000 installs over their lifetime.
This announcement has caused a stir, especially among indie and mobile game developers who heavily rely on Unity. Many of these games are sold at lower prices or are even free, making the install fee a financial burden. The reaction on social media platforms, specifically on Twitter, has been overwhelmingly negative.
The implications of these fees are particularly concerning for virtual reality (VR) gaming. Unity is widely used in the VR industry, including popular titles like Superhot VR. This move by Unity could potentially force VR developers to switch to other engines, delist their VR games, or even abandon VR gaming altogether. Moreover, the fees might also apply to pirated copies and review copies, further complicating the situation.
The Apple Vision Pro, a forthcoming VR headset, is one of the most affected by this change. Apple relies on a tool called PolySpatial for game development and porting to their new headset. However, using PolySpatial could trigger the same install fees, potentially discouraging developers from utilizing Unity or even the Apple Vision Pro itself. This is significant as PolySpatial was expected to provide Apple with a wide range of VR games.
Although Unity claims that over 90% of their customers will not be affected by this change, the damage may have already been done. The exodus of developers from the Unity engine could have a detrimental impact on VR gaming overall.
It remains to be seen how this controversy will develop and what steps Unity and game developers will take in response to these new install fees.