The serious business of making games

What about demos? Free to play weekends?

From what it seems, you have to pay for every installed demo.

Can you do us a solid and post the text of those? Clicking through half a dozen Twitter links with no context is… tedious.

I mean, “thinking of” is pretty non-committal. And after yesterday’s news everyone on Unity should at least take a look at their other options - even if it turns out fairly quickly that it’s not feasible for them to switch engines they’ve still thought about it.

I have put captures.


Fair point, assuming Unity’s count of installs is anywhere near the right ballpark, most titles outside F2P could move under the pro threshold.

So, this system implementation only works if Unity is able to share how exactly installs are counted.

They can’t do this, because then people will figure out how to get away with circumventing these controls.

So, the system will depend on trust in Unity, the person asking money from you, from being honest in their calculations.

Clearly that trust does not exist.

I’m currently married to Unity for my current project, but I think the “thinking” is very real for devs in pre-production.

Previously it was assumed that any change to Unity’s price schedule would either be incremental or announced well in advance.

Now that we know Unity may suddenly announce changes that are lethal to some business models with three months notice, that is a potentially huge risk in an already very risky business. Unreal is already perceived as having some significant tech advantages. Godot is behind Unity in maturity but has no license risks.

The weird thing for me here, beyond the obvious greed from Unity execs, is how what they are planning seems technically impossible, and they don’t even know what a ‘install’ is?


How are they going to distinguish and track all this? It seems the first step they would have to do is to have a ‘unity account’ system for consumers (together an online drm of course), so they can track how many “unique” user installs they have, vs installs from the same user, vs installs from the same user in a different machine, vs demos, vs pirated versions.


  • Thread in which the dev throws shade at Unity (glad I started learning Godot…)
  • Then goes on stating some frustrations they had in their studio (2 successful games, 30+ devs…) with Unity.
  • Frustration led them to switch to Unreal. Cue one year of the team learning a new engine.
  • Aaaand… studio closed due to financial distress… And he says it’s in part due to the switch to Unreal (and the lack of progress in new projects, one would suspect)…

It’s this process that I’m worried about. This happened to a stablished studio. Smaller indies can be hit hard if they do a technology shift without proper evaluating.

I would expect this to be the long-term goal of most software engine devs.

They might be planning on that, but I think there is effectively no chance that they got agreements to that effect with any of the distributors before the announcement. Nor is there any chance that those companies are going to sign on at this point.

I don’t understand the legal side of this, but if they can change the fees at any time, what would stop a company from stating that and then decide to change their terms to say that they get 50%, 75%, 100% of the game revenue? Just the fact that they are saying the fee is a “reasonable” fraction of the total value and only at a certain threshold shouldn’t change the specifics of whether ‘x fee’ is allowed to be written in at any point after a game is already sold to a consumer, or even after the dev has chosen to use Unity as their engine.

It seems weird to me that it would pass legal scrutiny but, like I said, I don’t know or follow this stuff closely. Is there precedent?

The “legal” aspect of this and other “retroactive fees assessed as part of new license updates” schemes seems to be “we’re hoping the affected parties don’t have the legal resources to challenge us in court, or that they’re more willing to absorb the costs than deal with a lengthy and expensive legal battle.”

The problem with that idea here is, some of the affected studios in this case are owned by companies like Microsoft and Nintendo, who can absorb the costs, but are unlikely to be interested in doing so, and who have far more resources to fight a protracted legal battle than Unity does.

I mean, this is literally what WOTC tried to do by updating their “Open Game License” for their next DND edition to include licensing fees for anyone using it who was making over a certain annual $ threshold. They said that it would retroactively apply to anything previously published under their OGL, as the old OGL (which was said to be in perpetuity) was no longer valid.

They realized they were leaving a lot of money on the table, and they wanted more. There was a huge backlash, and they took it back. Some big names in the TTRPG space left the system for a new one, it was a big PR nightmare.

Unity was like… hold my beer.

I don’t believe that unity will be able to retroactively collect fees on previously deployed games.

Likely, the fees would only kick in when the developer upgrades and redeploys their game.

That will come after a lawsuit, presumably. And how many game developers are going to stake their next game’s success on the outcome of a lawsuit? Again, it’s the uncertainty that is doing the damage here.

No part of the new terms talk of retroactive fees. That’s just Internet being Internet and interpreting things badly, and then people taking that as gospel (in part because it painted the worst picture, as people like that).

What is retroactive is the pre-requisites for the fees, the total amount of installs, no the fees themselves. So if your game sold 4 millions in the past three years, you are on the hook.
Once you are on the hook, you get fees for every install, from Jan 1 2024 onwards. Not from past installs.

Which is already bad enough, mind you!