Mobile Developers Send Open Letter to Unity, Disable Monetization in Protest
A group of developers from 19 studios, primarily based in Europe and specializing in mobile games, has published an open letter calling on Unity to abandon its new Unity Runtime Fee pricing model. However, they haven’t limited their protest to words alone.
“As an immediate measure, our collective of game developer companies is forced to disable all monetization through IronSource and Unity Ads in our projects until these changes are reconsidered,” the letter states. Among the letter’s authors are studios like Voodoo.io, Azur Games, and SayGames, each of which has more than a hundred games in its portfolio. In other words, the letter was written by companies that have released thousands of games with billions of downloads, and they have cut off Unity’s ability to earn revenue from their projects.
The cause of the conflict is a new pricing scheme that involves licensing fees for using the Unity engine for each game installation. This scheme comes into effect when certain thresholds based on the total number of installations and revenue are reached. According to Unity, this change will only affect 10% of its customers, but the company has not clarified how it plans to track installations and differentiate between “valid” and “invalid” installations.
Developers are concerned not only about the financial aspect but also about Unity’s violation of transparency principles regarding its own terms of service. In 2019, Unity revoked the license of the studio Improbable, citing violations of its terms of service. Under public pressure, Unity later reinstated Improbable’s license and committed to informing customers in advance of upcoming document changes.
In 2019, the company stated in its blog, “When you get a version of Unity and do not update your project, we think you can stick to the version’s terms of service.” Unity included this provision in its terms of service, with the latest revision issued in March 2022 (no longer valid as of October 2022): if a new version of the document worsens the licensee’s position, they have the right to use the software from the current year in accordance with the terms that were in effect before the updated revision. In 2019, the company announced that the history of terms of service would be tracked on GitHub to ensure complete transparency.
By the present time, the GitHub repository has been deleted, and in April 2023, the clause allowing the use of outdated versions of the document was removed from the terms of service. If this had not happened, developers would have had the right to use the previous version of the Unity engine and pay licensing fees according to the old scheme. However, with the updated terms of service, by using this software, they effectively agreed to the Unity Runtime Fee scheme even before it was announced.
Unity has already responded to the developers’ new initiative, as reported by The Verge. For apps whose developers have disabled monetization mechanisms, Unity has responded by disabling its user acquisition program.
- I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.
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