The self-proclaimed oldest cohort of Unity developers—called the Boston Unity Group—has announced that it is dissolving shortly after the game engine developer created a firestorm with changes to how it will charge its users.
Boston Unity Group, or BUG, announced the closure of the organization in a letter online. In it, BUG says that the reason for the dissolution is Unity’s move away from the creator ecosystem it built as an accessible video game generation tool. More specifically, BUG cites Unity’s recent announcement of a new pricing model as the reason it’s throwing in the towel. The group, which was founded in 2010 and claims to have thousands of members, will host its final meeting over Zoom this evening.
“Over the past few years, Unity has unfortunately shifted its focus away from the games industry and away from supporting developer communities,” BUG organizers announced in the letter. “Following the IPO, the company has seemingly put profit over all else, with several acquisitions and layoffs of core personnel. Many key systems that developers need are still left in a confusing and often incomplete state, with the messaging that advertising and revenue matter more to Unity than the functionality game developers care about.”
Earlier this month, Unity announced that it would be revisiting its pricing model beginning on January 1, 2024. In this new model, called Runtime Fee, Unity would charge developers a flat rate any time a user installs one of their games, regardless of whether or not that game is sold according to The Verge. The fees would be tacked onto any project made with Unity Personal or Unity Plus that makes $200,000 within a year or has 200,000 lifetime installs. Developers subscribing to Unity Pro or Unity Enterprise would have to pay fees when they made $1 million within a year or hit 1 million lifetime installs. Unity Personal/Plus developers would also have to pay $0.20 for every install over the threshold, while Unity Pro/Enterprise developers would be between $0.02 and $0.125 per install.
The decision sparked a massive outcry from the game developer community, leading Unity to sorta-kinda walk back the new guidelines. The buck didn’t stop there, however, as news broke that Unity executives had sold some of their stock in the company ahead of the announcement, likely anticipating the backlash. Unity eventually tweeted out an apology a few days after announcing the new scheme, thanking the devs for the “honest and critical feedback.” Unity announced last week that it had revised the Runtime Fee. Now, Unity Personal will remain free and developers using this tier will not have to pay the Runtime Fee. At the same time, no game with under $1 million in revenue in a 12-month period will have to pay the Runtime Fee.
Developers have not taken kindly to the revised plan or the general loss of trust in Unity this whole ordeal has created. As evidenced by the Boston Unity Group’s decision to shutter, there may be no putting this genie back in the bottle.
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