Unity Asset Store has not paid developers from Russia and Belarus for months. Teams from Ukraine also have problems with payment

For the ninth month in a row, Unity Asset Store withholds payments to Russian and Belarusian content authors. The assets created by them remain on the shelves of the store, and the support declares that it can do nothing. Developers from Ukraine, whose work is being promoted by the store as part of the Stand with Ukraine campaign, also faced difficulties.

What’s happening?

Since April, Unity Asset Store has been unable to arrange bank transfers to both asset developers from Russia and Belarus, and those who work in Ukraine. There is a situation where the store sells and even promotes content, but in fact withholds funds. There is no clear communication between the parties. In fact, the teams are forced to look for a way out of the situation on their own.

How does payment in the Unity Asset Store work in general?

To understand the situation, it is necessary to first understand exactly how the payment tool works in the Unity Asset Store. Simply put, how the platform charges developers money for the implemented content.

Like almost any modern digital store, Unity Asset Store acts as an intermediary between the buyer and seller. When buying a product, the store takes the money, takes a certain percentage and only then charges the amount to the seller.

Platforms do not pay money immediately. Transfers, as a rule, are generally tied not to the time of the purchase made by the user, but to a specific calendar date. Usually payments occur once a month or quarter. This is true for any large stores (including, for example, the App Store or Google Play).

As for the Unity Asset Store, it offers developers two payment models.

Direct transfer via PayPal

The money is credited every month. For example, the revenue for January will come in February.

To a bank account via the SWIFT system

Transfers are based on the results of the quarter. For example, the developer will receive the money earned in January-March in April.

It would seem convenient, because the developer has a choice. One option will not work, you can use an alternative. Unfortunately, the scenario failed with respect to teams from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine after February 24.

What’s wrong with PayPal

All our interlocutors would like to receive money the very next month after the sale is completed. But they can’t work with PayPal for various reasons beyond their control.

In Russia, the service became unavailable after the start of the “special operation”.

PayPal works partially for Belarusians. Receiving and withdrawing funds is prohibited in the country.

As for Ukraine, until March 2022, it was also impossible to receive money to a PayPal account or withdraw it in the country. The service is currently operating in a limited mode. Including it is impossible to create a corporate account. Therefore, it is impossible to get money from Unity.

What’s wrong with SWIFT

There was exactly one problem with SWIFT transfers carried out by Unity Asset Store until April. It was a long time, and any changes in the output data further delayed the procedure.

If the developer changed bank details for some reason (for example, opened a new account), then the next payment period could be postponed both to the next month and to the next quarter after the settlement (this depended on the reasons why the payment did not take place).

As one of our interlocutors explained, the system accepts changes in the details if they are made before the 28th of the month preceding the month of payment. If you change them after, the changes will not be accepted and the payment will go according to the old details.

If the old details are no longer relevant, this may lead to the loss of the payment. However, if you’re lucky, it will return to Unity and get the status Reversed. In this case, it will be automatically repeated until the 28th of the next month using the new details.

If the payment did not take place for other reasons, then there will be no automatic repeat of sending money. The transfer will have to wait until the next quarter.

“Other reasons” just happened in April. Developers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine (at least some of them) did not receive money for January-March (and some for October-December) from Unity Asset Store to their bank accounts.

They had the status of the In progress transfer in their personal account for a couple of weeks. At the end of the month, it changed to Disapproved. The developers did not receive notifications revealing why this happened and what to do.

Letter to Unity Management

Since Unity has not publicly commented on the situation in any way, in May an initiative group of developers (mainly Belarusian and Russian) sent an open letter to the company’s management.

It also reported that:

  • the last time most of the signatories received payment was in January;
  • everyone continues to work on assets and their support, despite the lack of translations;
  • Unity Customer Support works inefficiently, getting in touch once a month without solving problems.

The developers in the framework of the appeal asked:

  • tell us about the specific causes of translation problems;
  • provide specific guidance on how to solve the problem;
  • specify a list of banks to whose accounts Unity does not have the ability to transfer money (or at least suggest where to get such a list);
  • as soon as possible to re-implement the rejected transfer to a new account (and not in July, by which many will no longer have the means of subsistence);
  • make SWIFT transfers every month (so that teams can get information faster whether funds are being transferred to their bank or not).

Unity management ignored the email. Only support responded to it.

One of the Unity Asset Store employees noted in a closed forum that everyone who subscribed to the appeal will receive messages from the support service as soon as possible. He also said that the CEO of the company is aware of the problem,” said one of our interlocutors.

However, it did not end with anything concrete.

The situation with payments in Russia and Belarus

Even before April, developers from Russia and Belarus understood that they could face problems when receiving money.

On March 30 (that is, when it was too late to change the details), support published the names of the banks in which the payment would not take place. The list coincided with the list of banks that were sanctioned.

Only, as it turned out a little later, the absence of one or another Russian / Belarusian bank did not mean at all that the transfer would take place.

Many teams initially had accounts in unauthorized banks, but they did not receive money in April. By the way, a number of points in the appeal, which we described a little above, were also connected with this.

As for those teams that opened accounts in unauthorized domestic banks after March, they faced non-payments in July.

All this happened due to the fact that Unity does not have a tool that, immediately after changing the account, could tell how correct it is for the company. Developers will find out about this only after the fact in the next billing period.

The situation with payments in Ukraine

Developers from Ukraine are experiencing similar banking problems. According to one of the sources, many developers have not received money for months. Because of this, some have nothing to live on.

They also write about this on the closed Unity forums. According to community estimates, more than 50 Ukrainian content publishers have faced bank non—payments (for comparison, there are about 30 such among Russian and Belarusian teams).

Developers from Ukraine do not believe that they have a common problem with teams from Russia and Belarus. Ukrainian banks were not sanctioned.

So what’s the problem?

A possible specific root of the problem is the Worldpay company, which handles Unity payments. Some developers believe that the system simply stopped working with banks from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine after February.

Indirectly, this was confirmed by one of the support representatives. In response to the criticism of the developers , he wrote: “We don’t have access to all the third-party companies that are involved in bank transfers, so we can neither identify them nor influence them.”

The Unity Asset Store situation is not unique. In March, against the background of sanctions, many services faced the inability to pay developers the money owed to them. However, most of them solved it promptly.

According to the authors of assets from Russia and Belarus, transfers from the Unreal Engine Marketplace and a number of drains are regularly carried out today. They are also sympathetic to those services that refused to work with them. However, Unity continues to sell content from Belarusian and Russian teams.

The situation with Ukrainian teams is generally tragicomic. On the Unity Asset Store website, almost since March, there has been a Stand with Ukraine section, where work from developers from Ukraine is being promoted. However, even with regard to them, the problem is also not solved.

There is no specific information on how much money Unity holds. It is known that there are teams to whom the company must transfer up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. But most of the debts are much smaller — in the region of several tens of thousands of dollars.

Considering that for most teams, Unity Asset Store is responsible for 90% of earnings, it’s not about working capital, but about money for existence. A number of developers had to take out a loan in the spring, otherwise they would have been left without means of livelihood.

How is the problem solved?

Trying to solve the problem on their own, developers from Russia and Belarus, if possible, cash out funds through PayPal accounts of acquaintances who are citizens of the European Union.

Some of them also open accounts in banks in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. As the developers found out, who managed to get money with their help as part of the July payment, this is a working scenario.

As for the teams from Ukraine, at least a temporary solution for them was the use of Payoneer and Wise payment services. They say that most developers can use them.

The main disadvantage of both solutions is the additional commission. Because of this, not everyone is in a hurry to withdraw money. They hope that Unity will still adjust the work of SWIFT translations.

While preparing the material, we talked with two asset developers from Russia and Belarus. Our Western colleagues also talked with two Ukrainian teams. The editorial office also has an open letter from asset developers to Unity Software management, in which they ask to solve the problem. 24 developers signed up for the appeal.

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