The new plan is a drastic departure from what was initially announced. Now, users on the Unity Personal subscription plan will not be charged the new fee, and Unity will increase the revenue cap on games made with that plan to $200,000.
Furthermore, any game made with Unity that makes less than $1 million in 12 months will not be subject to the fee.
The company is also changing what games can be assessed with the new fee. Previously, the fee would have applied to all games that met the specific download and revenue thresholds. This applied to games both in development and released. Now Unity is saying that the fee will only apply to games made with the next version of Unity that is expected to launch sometime in 2024.
“The Runtime Fee policy will only apply beginning with the next LTS version of Unity shipping in 2024 and beyond,” Marc Whitten, president of Unity Create, said in a letter announcing the new policy. “Your games that are currently shipped and the projects you are currently working on will not be included — unless you choose to upgrade them to this new version of Unity.”
With this new update, Unity is also addressing some developer backlash by reinstating the ability for developers to use whatever TOS that correspond to their version of Unity. In 2019, Unity stated that it would allow users to use the terms of service that corresponded with whatever version of Unity a developer was working with. So long as the developer did not update their version of Unity, newer terms of service wouldn’t apply. It also said it would maintain a website where users could track changes to Unity’s terms of service.
However, Unity backtracked on those statements, deleting the TOS website and changing its terms of service such that developers would be subject to runtime fees before the fees were even announced. “We will make sure that you can stay on the terms applicable for the version of Unity editor you are using,” Whitten said on Friday.
Lastly, in 2024 and beyond, there will be games that will be assessed the new runtime fee. Instead of charging per installation, Unity will now let developers choose: “For games that are subject to the runtime fee, we are giving you a choice of either a 2.5 percent revenue share or the calculated amount based on the number of new people engaging with your game each month.” The blog does not make clear what metric by which developers are supposed to calculate what to pay.
Throughout this rollout, users have asked how Unity will determine when a game has met download and revenue thresholds. Previously, it said it relies on proprietary software but would not divulge details about how the software worked. Developers were concerned that “proprietary software” was either unreliable, involved inserting unwanted DRM or would run afoul of privacy laws. Unity has walked this back entirely, stating that now it will allow users to self-report revenue.
Unity acknowledged its poor communication throughout the process. “I want to start with simply this: I am sorry,” Whitten said. “We should have spoken with more of you and we should have incorporated more of your feedback before announcing our new Runtime Fee policy.”
Though this latest announcement seems to address many major concerns from developers, it still seems like trust between Unity and the game development community might have been irrevocably damaged. The company will be hosting a live “fireside chat” on YouTube to discuss the new policy on Friday at 4PM ET / 1PM PT.