Unity Charges per Installation, Game Developers Not Happy

Starting January 1, 2024, Unity will begin charging a fee called the “Unity Runtime Fee”, which is based on the number of users who download games built on the Unity Engine. Thanks to this new policy, video game developers are very unhappy.

This information was announced by Unity on its website. If you’re interested in the state of the video game industry, you can check out our other articles here.

September 12th: Unity Charges per Installation

Unity kenakan biaya per instalasi
Source: Unity

Starting January 1, 2024, Unity will start charging a fee called the “Unity Runtime Fee”, which is based on the number of users who download games built on the Unity Engine.

First reported by Game Developer, the “Unity Runtime Fee” will be charged once developers cross certain revenue and install thresholds that scale with different subscription plans.

Unity has provided a brief overview:

  • Unity Personal and Unity Plus: Those who have made 200,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 200,000 lifetime game installs.
  • Unity Pro and Unity Enterprise: Those who have made 1,000,000 USD or more in the last 12 months AND have at least 1,000,000 lifetime game installs.

According to Unity, this fee will be charged monthly and the amount charged per installation will also vary depending on the license.

For example:

  • Unity Personal and Unity Plus will pay a flat fee of 0.2 USD per installation.
  • Unity Enterprise will pay a fee of 0.15 USD per installation and decrease to 0.02 USD per installation, while Unity Enterprise will pay a fee of 0.125 USD per installation and decrease to 0.01 USD per installation.

In addition, the company also sets an “emerging market monthly rate” for developers who make money in countries like India.

For example:

  • Unity Personal and Unity Plus will cost 0.02 USD per installation.
  • Unity Pro will cost 0.01 USD per installation, while Unity Enterprise will cost 0.005 USD per installation.

Developers of free-to-play games will have the option to offset this cost by adopting other Unity services, such as LevelPlay’s advertising mediation service.

Through its blog, Unity has stated that it is implementing the “Unity Runtime Fee” in lieu of a revenue-sharing program.

Unity notes that they believe “installation-based fees allow video game makers to maintain ongoing financial gains from player engagement”.

Unity Create’s president, Marc Whitten, has told Game Developer that the company is trying to “balance a better value exchange” between Unity and developers.

We want to make more money so that we can continue to invest in this engine.

Marc Whitten, President of Unity Create

September 12-14: Video Game Developer Response to “Unity Runtime Fee”

The announcement of the “Unity Runtime Fee” led to widespread confusion, as developers scrambled to figure out if they would owe hundreds of thousands of dollars, charity bundle makers became concerned about the possibility of being penalized for supporting a good cause, and more.

The developer of Rust, Garry Newman, wondered if “Unity [wanted] us to start paying them 200,000 USD per month” before calculating and realizing that Facepunch Studios would owe Unity around 410,000 USD.

Indie game developer consultant, Rami Ismail, has also provided some key points that consumers could be concerned about after the announcement of the “Unity Runtime Fee”:

  • The demo is now risky for developers.
  • DRM-free games are now risky for developers.
  • Bundles are now risky for developers.
  • Giveaways are now risky for developers.
  • Updates are now risky for developers.
  • Multi-device users are now a risk for developers.

Axios journalist Stephen Totilo also shared some clarifications he received from Unity hours after its initial announcement, including that the charity game and charity bundle were not included in the cost.

However, “If a player deletes a game and re-downloads, that’s 2 installs, 2 charges,” Totilo wrote. “Same if they download on 2 devices.”

This clarification then made headlines and many developers started expressing their concerns about the whole situation:

Brandon Sheffield, creative director of Necrosoft Games, warned game developers about the Unity Engine in an article titled “The Death of Unity“.

But now I can say, unequivocally, if you’re starting a new game project, don’t use Unity. If you started a project 4 months ago, it’s worth switching to something else. Unity is simply not a company to be trusted.

Brandon Sheffield, Creative Director at Necrosoft Games

The head of Strange Scaffold, Xalavier Nelson Jr. confirmed to Kotaku that “concrete talks are underway among some of the most significant developers” regarding a “class-action” lawsuit against Unity.

September 13th: Unity’s First Clarification

Following the announcement, Whitten and Unity began responding to developers’ concerns by stating to Game Developer that the price increase did not impact the “majority of customers”.

“The vast majority of current Unity Editor customers do not pay and are NOT affected by this change,” Whitten said.

Whitten also sought to clarify that this “Unity Runtime Fee” is not retroactive or perpetual.

“We don’t charge for old installs, only new installs after January 1, 2024,” Whitten continued.

Unity’s official X account also shared a post on their forums titled “Unity plan pricing and packaging updates“. The forum contains a series of frequently asked questions that arose shortly after the “Unity Runtime Fee” announcement.

Speaking to Axios, Whitten said that Unity has changed the Runtime Fee so that developers will only be charged for the initial installation.

However, this additional fee will be charged if the player downloads the game on a second device, e.g. Steam Deck after downloading their game on a PC.

Whitten added that games offered for charity or included in charitable activities will be exempt from fees.

As for Game Pass and other subscription services, Whitten said that developers will not be charged, as the fees are charged to the distributors (Microsoft, Electronic Arts, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Ubisoft).

Whitten notes that this charge will also not be applied to the installation of game demos unless the demo is part of the main game download.

Whitten also suggested that only about 10% of developers using Unity will have to pay fees due to the threshold the company has set.

In a statement to IGN, a Unity spokesperson said that they have been working to prevent malicious installation harassment campaigns.

We already have fraud detection practices in our Ads technology that solve similar problems, so we will leverage that knowledge as a starting point. We recognize that users will have concerns about this and we will provide a process for them to raise their concerns with our fraud compliance team.


Unity also told IGN that it will track installs with its own proprietary data.

September 13th: Unity CEO Insider Trading?

Beyond the controversy of the “Unity Runtime Fee” announcement, some people and developers realized that some Unity executives had sold their shares.

Yahoo Finance reported that Unity’s CEO, John Riccitiello, had sold about 2 thousand shares on September 6, 2023.

Several members of Unity’s board of directors also sold their shares in recent weeks, such as Tomer Bar-Zeev who sold 37.5 thousand shares on September 1, 2023 and Shlomo Dovrat who sold 68 thousand shares on August 30, 2023.

September 14th: Unity’s Second Clarification

Acknowledging the “confusion and frustration” stemming from the “Unity Runtime Fee”, Unity has attempted to clarify questions about how the company defines and calculates installs.

Unity claims that it will only count “clean new installs” on any device from January 1, 2024.

Unity also notes that developers will not pay fees for reinstallations, “fraudulent” installations through botnets and other tricks, trial versions, web and streaming games, and charity-related installations.

Additionally, Unity updated their blog and FAQ with more details.

However, Unity’s second clarification didn’t seem to appease the developer. The post currently has nearly 6,000 comments and only 2,000 likes.

September 14th: Unity gets death threats?

Bloomberg reports that Unity Technologies has canceled a planned town hall and closed 2 offices after receiving credible death threats following the announcement of the “Unity Runtime Fee”.

According to a Unity spokesperson, the company is “aware of potential threats to some of our offices” and they have “taken immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of our employees”.

Unity will also close down potentially targeted offices within the next 2 days and “fully cooperate with law enforcement”.

After this Bloomberg report appeared, San Francisco police told Polygon that officers responded to Unity’s San Francisco office “regarding a threatening incident”.

A “complainant” told San Francisco police that “an employee made threats against his supervisor using social media”.

According to San Francisco police, the employee who made the threat is currently working in an office outside of California.

September 15th: Hundreds of Studios and Developers Disappointed With Unity’s Decision

As highlighted by @FuckedByUnity, over 100 studios including Visai Games (Venba), No Brake Games (Human: Fall Flat), IronOak Games (For the King), Kinetic Games (Phasmophobia), and Red Hook Studios (Darkest Dungeon) have spoken out publicly against Unity’s new “Unity Runtime Fee” policy.

In addition, around 18 developers and publishers have also decided to shut down IronSource and/or Unity Ads services in protest of the policy.

On the other hand, Rami Ismail has reported that he has already received consultancy requests from 100 studios (and counting), which does not include single developers and student projects.

September 18th: Unity Apologizes

After a week since the controversial policy on “Unity Runtime Fee”, Unity has apologized for the “confusion and anxiety caused”. The company also plans to share “updated information in the next few days”.

We’ve heard you. We apologize for the confusion and anxiety caused by the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday. We listened and spoke with our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We’ll share an update in the next few days. Thank you for your honest and critical feedback.


September 19th: “Unity Runtime Fee” Policy Change Leaked?

Bloomberg reports that Unity held a meeting with all employees and they were informed of the tentative changes to the policy. The changes include:

  • Limiting fees to 4% of game revenue above 1 million USD.
  • Installations calculated to reach the threshold are no longer retroactive.
  • Installations will no longer be tracked by Unity’s proprietary tools. Instead, Unity will rely on users to self-report data.

Unity executive, Marc Whitten, claimed to have said that Unity had not announced these new changes because executives were still running them through partners and did not want to repeat last week’s communication disaster.

“I don’t think there’s any other version that would be much different than what has happened,” Unity CEO John Riccitiello said in a meeting heard by Bloomberg. “This is a massive transformationalist change to our business model.”

Riccitiello also admitted, “I think we could have done a lot better.”

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