After Unity announced, tweaked, and re-announced its new Runtime graphics software, the video game development community wanted to know how and why this disastrous rollout happened. In addition to The message was posted by Unity Create President Mark Whitten on Fridayas held Live Fireside Chat on YouTube It addressed some of society’s biggest questions and concerns.
The first thing Whitten did, both in his letter and during the conversation, was to offer an apology.
“I just want to say I’m sorry,” Whitten said in his Q&A with Jason Wyman, a YouTube creator known for his Unity tutorials. “It is very clear that we did not receive enough feedback before launching the program.”
One of the first and most important questions asked has also been circulating across social media since the initial announcement of Unity: “Why?” Why add to Unity’s existing pricing plan – which was a tiered, subscription-based service – something that quickly became universally hated and quickly retracted.
“It is very clear that we did not receive enough feedback before launching the program.”
“The most important thing we’re trying to do is [build] “Sustained action for unity,” Whitten replied. He said the runtime fee was meant to be a “balanced exchange” between Unity and its users that would involve some sort of “shared success.”
Additionally, the new plan now gives developers a choice. They can either pay the fee based on “an amount calculated based on how many new people interact with your game each month,” or pay a flat percentage of 2.5 percent of gross revenue, whichever is lower.
(Neither the letter nor the Q&A addresses exactly what this “calculated amount” relates to, and the edge He contacted the unit for clarification.)
Whitten’s answer touched on another big “why” question developers had: why Unity didn’t simply offer a revenue sharing plan in the first place.
“We’re trying to build a model that we think is fair and represents a good value exchange that works for games once they find a level of success,” Whitten said.
He explained that the “pay-per-install” plan was a way for Unity to tie the value of the software to the high-performance games that used it, and that in most cases, paying the “calculated amount” would be better for developers than Unity simply taking a 2.5 percent cut from the top.
“We think it is in a very reasonable number of cases [the calculated amount is] “Actually fewer, and we think that’s a good thing,” Whitten said.
However, Whitten admitted that the company received feedback that implementing such a program would make it difficult for developers to plan their budgets, as would be the case if the game became a hit. Whitten said offering the revenue share program was a way to provide developers with more flexibility, allowing them to always have an idea of what they will be owed while also giving them the choice of how to pay.
Essentially, runtime fees were a way for Unity to get additional revenue from high-performing games — a sort of “we don’t get paid unless you do it” model. However, the company has cast a very wide net in terms of how much developers have to make before they can start paying, while unilaterally deciding how to pay those affected developers.
The new plan simultaneously reduces the number of developers subject to fees while offering new options for how those developers pay those fees.
Right now, the only games affected by this plan are those that have made $1 million or more and had a million or more “new user interactions” in the last 12 months.
Shares were presented as a metric in the letter written by Whitten, but were not clearly defined. In the Q&A, Whitten went into more detail about what “engagement” means, defining it as “a legitimate user of your software on a particular distribution channel.” These links will also be self-reported by the developers.
He explained that a legitimate user is a person who has not pirated or redeemed a game obtained through a distribution channel, whether by purchasing a store or using it from a subscription service. He also clarified that the sharing was a first-time use, and therefore did not involve someone downloading a previously purchased game onto a new device.
“Our goal is very simple,” Whitten said. “And it’s the first time your game using our runtime interacts with a very legitimate user on a distribution channel – use that as an account.”
Unity’s Terms of Service – or ToS – was another big topic that dominated the Q&A session. Back in 2019, Unity has created a dedicated Github page to track changes to its terms of service. However, this page was quietly deleted at some point before the new uptime fees were imposed. Developers were upset by this, seeing Unity as backing away from its previous commitment to transparency.
On social media, the official Unity account offered an interesting, if highly unsatisfactory, explanation for why the company deleted its ToS Github page:
“I’m really disappointed in the way the online terms of service removal process was worded.” The module was posted on X (formerly Twitter). “We removed it before announcing the price change because the view count was too low, not because we didn’t want people to see it.”
During the Q&A session, Whitten admitted that he knew nothing about the Github page until recently. However, he said so The page has been restored Unity will also continue to update its terms of service on its website. Furthermore, as part of this new plan, Unity stated that it will once again enshrine in its terms the ability for developers to lock down any terms of service that match their version of Unity.
“People need to know that they can rely on a set of terms when they start using a version of Unity,” Whitten said. “So we will make sure that is the case.”
There was also a question asking what, if anything, would prevent Unity from changing its terms of service again. The company has not yet updated its terms to reinclude the ability to “lock” a specific version of the terms of service. Although this is a welcome addition to the pricing update, the reality is that there is nothing stopping Unity from changing its terms again to remove it.
All the developer has is confidence that Unity won’t do that.
“I wrote that letter and I won’t put it down [that] “In the letter if I didn’t think the company would stand up for that,” Whitten said.
“I am committed to making sure we continue to work as hard as we can to earn your trust,” Whitten said. He also said that this could only be done through “deeds, not words.”
Unity’s introduction of a flexible payment model, updating its terms of service, and republishing its Github page were actions aimed at restoring trust, Whitten explained. But ultimately, Whitten acknowledged, it’s up to the community to decide whether these measures are enough.
“I can’t tell you that you have to trust me,” Whitten said. “You have to decide that for yourself.”
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