Unity has a new monetization. Developers will be obliged to pay with each installation and will be banned from using the engine offline (UPDATED)

Unity has announced a new pricing policy. Starting next year, if a number of conditions are met, the company will charge for each installation. Important: the installation will also be considered a reinstall (maybe it won’t be considered).

UPDATE: The material was updated at 11.40 on September 13 due to the appearance of new explanations from Unity. In the text, we marked it with color.

What happened?

On September 12, a post about significant changes in subscription types and prices appeared on the official blog of the Unity engine. The changes will come into force on January 1, 2024.

The most significant innovation is Unity Runtime Fee. Simply put, this is an additional fee. The company will charge it from those games that have earned more than a certain amount for each of the last 12 months and whose cumulative downloads amounted to more than a certain value. Levels depend on the type of subscription:

  • Unity Personal and Unity Plus subscribers will have to pay if their game has earned $200 thousand in the last 12 months and has at least 200 thousand installations for the entire operating time;
  • Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise subscribers will pay after the game reaches $1 million in revenue and a cumulative number of installations of 1 million.

The amount of the fee also depends on the type of subscription:

  • Unity Personal and Unity Plus subscribers will be required to pay $0.20 for each installation above the 200 thousand level;
  • as for Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise subscribers, the amount of the fee will have a regressive scale for them. For example, the maximum fee from a Unity Pro subscriber for each installation above the level of one million installations will be $0.15. And the more installations there are, the less the tax will be. But not less than $0.02. The “fork” for Unity Enterprise subscribers will be from $0.125 to $0.01.

The amount of tax will also depend on the place where the installation is performed. If we are talking about a developing country, like India, then the tax on each installation for Unity Personal and Unity Plus will be $0.02, for Unity Pro — $0.01, and for Unity Enterprise — $0.005.

Important: Unity will not tax downloads made before January 1, 2024. At the same time, the company emphasizes that the level of downloads is the level of installations completed during the entire operation (lifetime installs).

In addition, representatives of the engine told Axios that:

  • if a player deletes the game and then installs it again, Unity counts it for two installations (respectively, the company will make two write-offs);
  • if the game is installed by one user on two different devices, it is also considered by the company as two installations.

UPDATE from 11.40 13.09.2023

After Unity’s decision caused widespread criticism among developers, the company gave a new comment to Axios, in which it stated that:

  • after all, only the initial download will be considered an installation (the company has admitted that it has changed its position on this issue);
  • however, installation on each new device will remain a taxable installation (that is, if a player downloaded the purchased game to a PC, and then to another PC or Steam Deck from his own Steam profile, then these are three different downloads);
  • the situation will not affect the installation of demos, however, if the demo is part of a download that includes the full game (or, for example, if we are talking about early access), then this will be recorded as an installation;
  • if the game is distributed by sublist, then in this case the developer will not have to pay the fee, the platform will have to pay it instead (for example, Microsoft will have to transfer money from each download of the game from the Game Pass);
  • games distributed on a charitable basis will not be subject to a new fee;
  • Unity is confident that only 10% of developers will touch the Runtime Fee.

What does Unity say about the reasons for the introduction of Runtime Fee?

The post states that the Unity engine has two components: Unity Editor and Unity Runtime. The company calls the latter “code that runs on players’ devices and helps developers scale game downloads to billions of values.” Unity considers this a sufficient reason for the introduction of monetization.

“We went for it because Unity Runtime is loaded along with each game,” the blog reveals. – “We are also confident that the deductions for each installation, unlike the traditional monetization model (revenue share), will allow game creators to continue to earn on user engagement.”

A separate FAQ notes that Unity Runtime has billions of installations. It also says that the company needs additional resources to continue investing in the code.

Unity Create president Marc Whitten told Game Developer that the company is trying to “improve the balance in terms of sharing values” between Unity and developers. He also notes that most Unity Editor users do not pay for using the engine now and their new policy will not affect them.

The last time the company changed its pricing policy was about a year ago. In September 2022, Unity announced a price increase. Then the annual cost of Unity Pro jumped from $1800 to $2040 per year, and Unity Enterptrise — from $2400 to $3000. The company explained its decision by the high demand for its product.

What other changes are planned?

The cost of Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise will remain at the same level. As for the rest of the plans, the following changes are waiting for them:

  • The Unity Personal plan will remain free, but starting in November, you will need to use Unity ID and be online to launch the engine (the engine will only work offline for three days).
  • Unity Plus — from September 12, the subscription will no longer be available to new users. It is stated that this is done to simplify working with subscription types (now an annual subscription to Pro can be purchased at the price of an annual subscription to Plus).

In November, Unity plans to update all plans so that they receive “added value”. We are talking about the following functionality:

  • Unity Sentis is an AI solution that integrates a generative neural network into Runtime (all subscriptions will receive);
  • Unity Asset Manager — Cloud content storage (will receive only paid subscription types);
  • Unity DevOps is a tool for automating and simplifying operations (only paid subscription types will be received);
  • administration tools — new bookmarks in Unity Dashboard that will allow you to assign roles when working on a project (they will receive only paid subscription types).

What does Unity have with finance?

Now the company says that one of the tasks of the innovation is to allow the company to continue investing in the development of the code.

The last report on the state of affairs in the company was published in August. Then the company reported results for the second fiscal quarter.

In April-June, its revenue amounted to a record $533 million (80% growth in annual terms).

Most of the money went to the segment of Grow Solutions (monetization tools) — $340 million. The Create Solutions segment, responsible for development tools, earned $193 million.

Despite the revenue growth, the company is still in the red. Net loss for the second quarter was $193 million.

For comparison, the company ended the first quarter of this year with a loss of $ 254 million, and the fourth quarter of 2022 with a loss of $288 million.

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