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John Little | 18:18 - 16 November 2013
As a consultant for desktop and mobile casino and social game develeop to 5 of the UK household gaming company names in Gibraltar, I can say this change in EULA is devastating.
Firstly, 2 of the most well known gambling companies did not make an operational profit for 10 years. They have impressive turnovers, but have had to borrow heavily. Two new gaming companies have burnt through £5m and £10m investment capital in the last 2 years respectivly, and it will be some time before they are profitable, if ever.
Its a big risk industry where big names dominate.
Recently, I have developed some casino game prototypes using Unity for these gaming companies in order to persuade them to consider this new 3D type technology. Most of the companies are still relying on Flash, and their big selling games are pretty poor graphically.
However, with this EULA change, I can no longer recommend Unity for 2 reasons.
Firstly, margins are very tight, and paying an unknown and potentially variable percentage to a tool provider is a show stopper for all but the richest.
Secondly, they sneaked in this change in V4. Who knows what they will sneak in in V5, perhaps they will target social games, or perhaps games over a certain revenue.
To develop a suite of Unity type games is a huge cost and a significant risk - you have to build a team, get up to speed, then hope you can produce something which performs well enough on older handsets, works across all platforms (they have been burnt with HTML5 here), and whose per seat costs are already very high. And who knows if customers will like the 3D look over the older style?
So the risk of starting with Unity is high: the initial license and developer cost is high, and now, even if the company manages to make money out of it, they may be held to ransom at any new version release, even for games which are not currently covered (such as social games), may be targeted next.
If I was an indie developer or small game studio, I would think twice about starting or continuing with Unity, as any game I build now may become worthless if its suddenly the target of a prohibitive and unknown licencing cost.
Way to go Unity.
What they should have done is made a new and transparent model. E.g. if you have a gambling (real money prize) game, and it makes over X in net profit (e.g. defined as gross profit - 10%), then it will attract a Y% fee. That way you know up front what the rules are, and can make a business case for or against starting with Unity.
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