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A 4% cap and self-reported data: Inside the rollback of the Unity Runtime Fee

Beleaguered game engine outlines how they could address the industry's concerns
A 4% cap and self-reported data: Inside the rollback of the Unity Runtime Fee

Unity sent shockwaves through the industry with the introduction of its controversial new pricing scheme, the Unity Runtime Fee, last week.

Under the terms of the scheme, first announced last week, users would be charged a $0.20 fee for every download their game received past a specific thershold. The move led to protests throughout the industry, with co-founder, ex-CEO and board member David Helgason responding "We fucked up on so many levels."

The company took to X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday, stating that changes to the policy were being made, and Monday saw the company hold an all-hands meeting discussing how it's addressing the concerns of the industry - details of which have just leaked. This follows the cancellation of a planned all-hands meeting and closure of two offices last week, which were attributed to a credible death threat.

United against change

In a recording of the meeting reviewed by Bloomberg, members of the leadership team unveiled details of planned changes to the new scheme.

Most crucially, the tentative new plan will see Unity limit fees to 4% of a game's revenue for customers making over $1 million, as opposed to the original plan which would see the Unity claim uncapped fees. Additionally, installations counting towards the threshold won't be applied retroactively, and as such Unity users which reached the threshold prior to the introduction of the new pricing scheme won't be affected.

Additionally, Unity will no longer track installations of its software using proprietary tools, instead relying on its users to self-report their data.

Unity Create president Marc Whitten noted that these changes haven't been announced to the public yet, as executives are still discussing the changes with partners.

CEO John Riccitiello re-emphasized that the aim of the new policy is to maximise revenue from Unity's biggest customers, and that 90% of users wouldn't be affected.

What does Unity's future hold?

With the move causing a storm of controversy throughout the gaming industry, it's understandable that executives have stated that the company will handle future communications more carefully to help avoid such controversy in the future.

Riccitiello accepted that the company's handling of the announcement had been poor, but stated his belief that any changes would have led to a similar reaction from the wider industry. 

“I don’t think there’s any version of this that would have gone down a whole lot differently than what happened,” said Riccitiello. “It is a massively transformational change to our business model.”

“I think we could have done a lot of things a lot better.”