Last week we brought you the news that Unity, the game engine that Pokémon GO runs on, was changing their policy on how their pricing structure works, and would be introducing a new ‘charge per install’ policy. It led many trainers within the GO community to speculate whether or not Niantic would want to continue to use the Unity engine for GO, or if they would try to find an alternative. With this policy intended to come into play on January 1st 2024, it didn’t leave game developers much time to figure out what to do.
Several developers had announced that going forward they would no longer be building their new games on Unity, including Rust 2 developers FacePunch Studios, and others had threatened to delete their games that are currently using Unity.
Pokémon GO trainers feared that the game would introduce even more paid events, subscriptions, or higher fees for premium items, which would be especially controversial given the changes made this year to the remote raid passes costs and usability.
As per the initial announcement, they announced the following changes:
In addition to the subscription fee for commercial use, developers will now be required to pay a royalty for each game installation. This royalty will be charged 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. The fee can range from $0.005 to $0.20 per install, depending on the developer’s subscription plan and the number of installs.
|Unity Personal and Unity Plus||Unity Pro||Unity Enterprise|
|Unity Runtime Fee thresholds to be met|
|Revenue Threshold (USD)||$200,000 (last 12 months)||$1,000,000 (last 12 months)||$1,000,000 (last 12 months)|
|Install Threshold||200,000 (life to date)||1,000,000 (life to date)||1,000,000 (life to date)|
|Installs over the Install Threshold||Standard monthly rate|
|1-100,000||$0.20 per install||$0.15 per install||$0.125 per install|
|100,001-500,000||$0.075 per install||$0.06 per install|
|500,001-1,000,000||$0.03 per install||$0.02 per install|
|1,000,001+||$0.02 per install||$0.01 per install|
|Installs over the Install Threshold||Emerging market monthly rate|
|1+||$0.02 per install||$0.01 per install||$0.005 per install|
This has created real uproar in the gaming community, and has seen a lot of panic and distress from game developers. They were concerned that fraudulent installs could increase costs exponentially, that the system could be abused, and there was more clarity needed in terms of how this would impact charities, giveaways and more. Many free to play games were concerned that they may have to begin charging, taking away from the whole ethos of their games, and smaller/indie developers wondered how this would impact them long term.
They then shared some clarifications, after devs sought more information. This comes directly from Unity’s twitter/X account:
- Who is impacted by this price increase: The price increase is very targeted. In fact, more than 90% of our customers will not be affected by this change. Customers who will be impacted are generally those who have found a substantial scale in downloads and revenue and have reached both our install and revenue thresholds. This means a low (or no) fee for creators who have not found scale success yet and a modest one-time fee for those who have.
- Fee on new installs only: Once you meet the two install and revenue thresholds, you only pay the runtime fee on new installs after Jan 1, 2024. It’s not perpetual: You only pay once for an install, not an ongoing perpetual license royalty like a revenue share model.
How we define and count installs: Assuming the install and revenue thresholds are met, we will only count net new installs on any device starting Jan 1, 2024. Additionally, developers are not responsible for paying a runtime fee on:
- Re-install charges – we are not going to charge a fee for re-installs.
- Fraudulent installs charges – we are not going to charge a fee for fraudulent installs. We will work directly with you on cases where fraud or botnets are suspected of malicious intent.
- Trials, partial play demos, and automation installs (devops) charges – we are not going to count these toward your install count. Early access games are not considered demos.
- Web and streaming games – we are not going to count web and streaming games toward your install count either.
- Charity-related installs – the pricing change and install count will not be applied to your charity bundles/initiatives.
They also shared the following with Axios:
The fee will now only apply to the initial installation of game and that developers are not on the hook for installations through Xbox Game Pass, with fees instead being passed to platform holders like Xbox. Demos will also not be affected unless they are part of a demo that includes the full game. Games offered in charity bundles will be exempt from fees.
Since the initial clarifications were announced, Unity had remained silent, until today when they shared the following on their twitter/X:
We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused. We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy. We will share an update in a couple of…
— Unity (@unity) September 17, 2023
With this new announcement, it seems that Unity are accepting that this new policy was going to potentially have disastrous consequences for some developers, and impacts on existing games. It will be interesting to see what changes will be made to this new policy, and how they intend to proceed going forward, and just how much they actually change this intended policy. While it is an apology, it leaves a very open, unsure future ahead still for games that run on the Unity engine, including Pokémon GO.