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Unity’s new “per-install” pricing enrages the game development community

Enlarge / Kaboom! (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

For years, the Unity Engine has earned goodwill from developers large and small for its royalty-free licensing structure, which meant developers incurred no extra costs based on how well a game sold. That goodwill has now been largely thrown out the window due to Unity’s Tuesday announcement of a new fee structure that will start charging developers on a “per-install” basis after certain minimum thresholds are met.

The newly introduced Unity Runtime Fee—which will go into effect on January 1, 2024—will impose different per-install costs based on the company’s different subscription tiers. Those on the Unity Personal tier (which includes free basic Editor access) will be charged $0.20 per install after an individual game reaches $200,000 in annual revenue and 200,000 lifetime installs.

Users of Unity’s Pro and Enterprise tiers (which charge a separate annual subscription for access to a more full-featured Unity Editor) will pay slightly smaller per-install fees starting at $0.125 to $0.15 after a game reaches $1 million in annual revenue and 1 million total installs. The per-install fees for the paid subscription tiers are also subject to “volume discounts” for heavily installed games, going down as low as $0.01 per install for games that are installed 1 million times per month.

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