The biggest story in the gaming world this week is developers reacting with fury to the announcement of the Unity Runtime Fee. Many well-respected developers, including Garry Newman (the Garry of Garry’s Mod), and Slay The Spire Developers Mega Crit, have voiced their strong objections to the changes in the popular game engine’s pricing structure.
We’re here to speculate on where it leaves us in the Android gaming community.
United We Stand, Divided We Fall
So, what’s all the fuss about with Unity? Well, the recent uproar comes from a recent change in its pricing structure, called the ‘Unity Runtime Fee’.
Up until this point, the Unity Engine’s pricing structure has been relatively straightforward. Up to $100K in sales or funding and it’s free to use, between $100K and $200K requires Unity Plus, and beyond that requires at least a Unity Pro license, which costs around $2000 a year.
The change would make the personal edition available to anyone, regardless of the sales, but there’s a catch. After a certain threshold of earnings, and installations of the game, the Unity Runtime Fee kicks in.
Once the Unity Runtime Fee is… running, the developer has to pay Unity every time someone installs the game, whether the game was purchased for money or not.
As an Android site, we’re of course asking the question.. how could this affect Android games? Now, if you’re someone who knows much about the current trends of mobile gaming, you can probably see why a system that charges per installation might hit a lot of mobile devs hard.
Gacha Devs’ Worst Nightmare?
The free-to-play model is quite a huge one on our beloved platform, and many developers, particularly gacha developers, release games aware that many players won’t spend much money. If you’re anything like us, there are probably plenty of games that you’ve installed, played a couple of times, and then left to rot forever.
This might become a problem if every non-paying player actively costs money to accommodate. That’s without considering if the charge applies when the same person uninstalls then reinstalls a title… some dedicated rerollers could burn a hole in a studio’s pocket.
Of course, Unity isn’t the only engine out there. Its ease of access, readily available resources, and comparative simplicity to start learning have made it the engine of choice for many studios and game development training courses, but it has big competitors.
Other Engines Out There
Snowbreak: Containment Zone, Farlight 84, and Ark: Survival Evolved are all Android titles that work on Epic Games’ Unreal Engine, which operates on a revenue share basis above a certain threshold.
Reverse bullet-hell gem Brotato, on the other hand, uses the free and open-source engine Godot.
Of course, there are plenty of Android gamers who would welcome the end of free-to-play’s dominance in the mobile gaming landscape, though realistically it’s way too early to make any apocalyptic predictions.
Even if you’re the kind of gamer who’d be happy to see every gacha in existence banished to the shadow realm, there is likely to be a developer you do respect raising reservations about the changes, so it’s worth taking a look at what they have to say on the topic.
Unity may change its stance, developers may change engines, or maybe soon everyone will be developing exclusively in RPG Maker and Roblox Studio. Who knows?
We’re ready for an interesting few weeks to see how this unfolds.
In the meantime, you can check out our best new Android games this week.