Unity To Start Charging Niantic Per Game Install


Unity is updating their monthly licensing model to be based on the number of game installs across all Unity-supported platforms, rather than a flat fee. As a result, Niantic has until January 2024 to either migrate Pokémon GO to a different game engine or begin paying the new fee for each installation. This applies to every game developer running Unity, 

What is a Game Engine?

A gaming engine is a software development environment that simplifies and optimizes the development of video games across various programming languages. It is also known as a “game architecture” or “game framework”. There are two primary engines that most developers use for video game development – Epic Games’ Unreal Engine and Unity. Though some developers prefer custom-built engines like Capcom’s RE Engine. Unity engine has powered some of the most popular and iconic games, including Cuphead, Hearthstone, Hollow Knight, and of course, Pokémon GO. 

Currently, Niantic has published Pokémon GO through Unity and pays royalties as a subscription-based service. However, starting from January 1, 2024, Unity is introducing a new pay-per-install model.

What is Unity changing?

Unity recently announced significant changes to its monetization and royalty policies that could negatively impact many developers. 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 could have a significant impact on game developers who offer free-to-play games or release their titles on subscription services like Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. These changes are unlikely to be welcomed by developers, and it remains to be seen how this will affect their decision to release games on subscription services like Game Pass. It will also be interesting to see if companies like Microsoft and Sony will agree to pay the commission fee as part of their deal.

How will this affect Pokémon GO?

From a regular player’s point of view, the gameplay should not change. The impact of this will be on the developing end. Niantic may stick with Unity and take the hit of these extra charges. This brings about a couple of questions:

  • Will the cost of gameplay increase? The appeal of Pokémon GO is that it is possible to advance as a F2P player. Will we see a small increase in the cost of Special Research tickets or premium store items?
  • Is there a method to detect and prevent abusive behaviour such as deleting/reinstalling the app repeatedly? An extract from Unity’s page states the following:

Q: How will we approach fraudulent or abusive behaviour which impacts the install count?

A: We do already have fraud detection practices in our Ads technology which is solving a similar problem, so we will leverage that know-how as a starting point. We recognize that users will have concerns about this and we will make available a process for them to submit their concerns to our fraud compliance team.

If Niantic decide to change game engine, it is entirely possible, and this shouldn’t affect the games playability. However, this will likely come with a huge cost to Niantic both in monetary value and time spent refactoring code. 

As more news becomes available, we will keep you updated. What are your thoughts on these developments for now, Trainers?

Author & tags

Hey! I'm phrixu, a Pokemon GO player from the UK. I am dedicated to making Pokemon GO as accessible as possible, to the whole community!

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