Game Developers Unite in Disgust: Unity's Controversial Fee Policy Sparks Outrage

Unitys new per-install fee sparked backlash from game developers. Terraria developer Re-Logic pledged $200,000 to open-source engines in protest. Unitys apology failed to repair trust.

In a surprising turn of events, Unity, the renowned game engine, found itself facing a united front of disapproval from game developers when it unveiled its new per-install fee. Game developers across the spectrum, including those who don't typically use Unity, voiced their anger and criticized this unprecedented change in terms.

One remarkable demonstration of this unity among game developers occurred when Re-Logic, the developer behind the popular game Terraria, announced a bold move in response to Unity's controversial decision. Despite having minimal reliance on Unity in their own work, Re-Logic pledged to donate a substantial sum of $200,000 to open-source game engines, effectively launching a counteroffensive against Unity's fee policy.

In a statement, Re-Logic expressed its deep dismay at witnessing a once-leading and user-friendly game engine succumb to what they described as "darker forces" that have negatively impacted the gaming industry. They stated, "While we do not personally use Unity (except for a few elements on our console and mobile platforms), we feel compelled to take action against these predatory moves affecting studios worldwide."

Re-Logic's commitment extended beyond mere condemnation. The studio felt a responsibility to support emerging open-source game engines and, to that end, pledged donations of $100,000 each to Godot and FNA, both free and publicly-licensed engines. Godot, in particular, has gained attention as a viable Unity alternative in light of the recent changes. Additionally, Re-Logic committed to ongoing monthly donations of $1,000 to both projects, with a single request—that these open-source engine developers continue their developer-friendly approach and strive to empower developers everywhere.

Unity attempted to quell the outrage by issuing an apology for the "confusion and angst" generated by its new install fee and promised to "make changes to the policy." However, this statement failed to pacify the game development community. Trent Kusters, studio director at League of Geeks, rejected Unity's assertion that the problem was mere "confusion." Instead, he argued that game developers fully comprehended the devastating impact and the anti-developer sentiment inherent in the new fee model.

To recap Unity's proposal, slated to take effect on January 1, Unity intended to charge game developers each time a Unity-based game was installed, based on its proprietary data model, once specific installation thresholds were met. Notably, this fee would apply retroactively to games published before the policy's introduction. Unity subsequently backtracked on certain aspects of the policy, clarifying that developers would not be charged for game reinstalls, despite initially indicating otherwise. For the latest details on the plan, interested parties can refer to Unity's Runtime Fee FAQ, with the company promising further updates in the near future.

Re-Logic remained resolute in its stance, asserting that even a complete reversal of Unity's policy would not erase the disappointment and erosion of trust they had experienced. The studio emphasized that trust, once broken, is not easily mended.

In summary, Unity's recent fee policy shift triggered a remarkable show of solidarity among game developers, with Re-Logic taking a proactive stance by supporting open-source game engines. While Unity attempted to mitigate the fallout through an apology and policy adjustments, the wounds inflicted upon developer trust ran deep, underscoring the significance of the gaming industry's united front against these divisive changes.

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