When it comes to developing video games, there are two main engines that most developers use if not a custom-built engine like Capcom’s RE Engine, and those are Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Unity. The Unity engine has powered some iconic and popular games including Cuphead, Hearthstone, Hollow Knight, and even Pokemon Go.
When a developer publishes a game that uses either Unreal Engine or Unity they usually pay royalties either as a subscription to use and publish games such as Unity, or based on the amount of revenue the game generates as is the case with Unreal Engine. This is all set to change as Unity will be introducing a new pay-per-install model on January 1, 2024, which could put a lot of developers choosing the engine for their next projects.
In a recent blog post, Unity announced that it is set to make huge changes to its monetization and royalties and it could affect a lot of developers negatively. In addition to the subscription fee to use the engine for commercial purposes, developers will now have to pay a royalty every time the game is installed by a player. This will begin once the developer has generated between $200,000 and $1,000,000 in the last 12 months and between 200,000 and 1,000,000 lifetime installs. Depending on the subscription the developer is subscribed to and the number of installs, this fee can range from $0.005 all the way to $0.20 per install.
This could greatly impact developers that offer either free-to-play games or release their titles on services such as Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus, which usually see a large number of installs regardless of whether they end up trying the game out. It is hard to imagine any developers are thrilled about these changes right now and it will be very interesting to see how this impacts developers choosing to release games on subscription services such as Game Pass, and whether the likes of Microsoft and Sony agree to pay the fee as part of the deal.