Unity Technologies came under fire from a very angry community of developers last month when it pushed out per-install runtime fees for games that ran on the Unity engine, on top of existing subscription fees. While the company has tried to make amends with various changes to the monetization scheme, it’s done little else to restore its reputation with developers and the video game community in general.
Recently, anonymous sources have come forward to reveal that the new policy was rushed out even after dire warnings from the company’s employees. “Half of the people in that meeting said that this model is too complicated, it’s not going to be well received and we should talk to people before we do this,” the sources said. “They obviously did have conversations with people, but not enough. We had this meeting and were told it was happening, but we were not told a date. And then before we knew it, it was out there.”
The sources also revealed that the controversial decision was a direct result of dropping share prices, which dipped by as much as 11% following the massive layoffs back in May. “Ultimately Unity has lost a lot of money over the last 18 years—billions of dollars—and they need to do something to make more money. Sadly, it wasn’t delivered well,” they added.
Following the massive backlash, Unity Technologies made several concessions so as not to burden smaller development studios and free-to-play games that aren’t turning in any profits. However, there’s still the matter of whether bigger companies would want to take on the added expense.
Ultimately, the issue boils down to a lack of trust. The fact that Unity can just change their policies and fees whenever it suits them is now a bigger concern for developers compared to the added fees.
“If I don’t seem impressed that the current terms won’t brutalise my expected revenue, it’s because it doesn’t take a genius to flash forward to your next twist of the knife,” wrote game designer and former PC Gamer writer Tom Francis. “Apparently you’re able and willing to change the terms under which we used your engine, placing the fees and thresholds wherever you like.”
As the saying goes, “Trust is like glass. Once broken, it will never be the same again.”