Game developers flee Unity after exorbitant price plan announced, but not everyone can get out

Game-making platform Unity has "destroyed its goodwill with developers", Bloomberg News reports, after rolling out a shocking new price plan that specifies price hikes, per-install payments and various other rental complexities. The beancounters there sinking their teeth into programmers sent many fleeing to alternative game engines—if they can get out, that is. Some have simply canceled current projects that are now uneconomical to complete.

Since going public, Unity has also run into a series of PR snafus including a controversial deal with the U.S. military, a quiet price hike for console development and an interview in which Riccitiello called game makers who don't think about monetization "f—ing idiots." (He later apologized.)

The latest incident began on Tuesday when Unity announced a new policy called the Unity Runtime Fee that will charge companies for every installation of their game once certain thresholds have been crossed. The announcement was a communications mess that left several questions unanswered (such as: what about games available via subscription services like Xbox Game Pass?) that the company was forced to clarify with a series of subsequent PR statements. (Unity says Microsoft would be on the hook for those particular downloads.)

Game developers were livid. For days, game companies big and small have been castigating the tech maker on social media for the decision. The developer of the popular game Slay the Spire offered one of the most cutting comments, threatening to move their next project to a new engine if Unity doesn't reverse the policy. "We have never made a public statement before," they said. "That is how badly you f—ed up." In protest, some Unity developers are disabling ads in their games, while others are even mulling a class-action lawsuit.

Unity isn't a game engine. It's a malware-pushing advertising network which merged with a game engine as a delivery channel and now wears its corpse as its skin. This is fine for the bigger devs and publishers structured around platform relationships, but for everyone else? Gamemaker, Godot, Unreal, Defold… pick a flavor, they're all on square one.