Game developers, affected by Unity’s price change, are working together in response to this situation. The developer union, composed of 19 mostly European-based companies specializing in mobile game development, has published an open letter calling on Unity to reconsider recent changes to its cost structure. There’s a big twist to the script that touches on some of the sentiments expressed by other developers this week.
“As an immediate response, our team of game developers was forced to disable all IronSource and Unity ad monetization for our projects until these adjustments can be re-evaluated,” he said.
In fact, these companies collectively represent thousands of games with billions of downloads, preventing Unity from generating additional revenue from its services. Companies mentioned in the letter include Voodoo.io, Azur Games and SayGames, which each have more than 100 games.
Many developers demanded that the company reverse its decision. Some even announced the end of Unity by vowing not to use it in the future or to transfer ongoing work to another game development platform. This united action taken by developers marks the next stage in the escalating conflict between Unity and its user base.
The core issue revolves around Unity’s announcement of changes to its pricing model, which involves levying charges on developers for each installation of a Unity game once certain download and revenue milestones are reached. While Unity claims that only a minority, approximately 10 percent of its user base, will feel the impact, there remains uncertainty regarding Unity’s methods for monitoring installations and distinguishing between “valid” and “invalid” ones.
In addition to financial worries, developers are frustrated because this new pricing structure appears to violate the transparency that Unity had previously assured in its terms of service.
Unity’s Changes to Rules Affect Users and Developers
Companies frequently modify their terms of service and can terminate agreements when violations occur. In 2019, Unity followed this pattern by revoking the license of the software company Improbable, citing violations of its terms of service. This decision triggered strong reactions within the community, leading Unity to subsequently reinstate Improbable license and pledge to provide users with clear communication regarding any future alterations to the terms of service.
In a 2019 blog post, Unity articulated, “If you obtain a specific version of Unity and choose not to update your project, we believe you should be able to adhere to the terms of service associated with that version.”
This sentiment is mirrored in a March 2022 edition of Unity’s Terms of Service (TOS). The TOS states, “Unity may revise these Unity Software Additional Terms at its discretion, without prior notice, if the Revised Terms have a detrimental effect on your rights, you have the option to continue using current-year versions of Unity Software under the terms that were in effect just before the Revised Terms.”
Furthermore, in their 2019 blog post, Unity declared their intention to document TOS alterations on GitHub “to provide developers with complete transparency regarding the nature and timing of these modifications.”
Nevertheless, Unity has taken the step of removing that GitHub repository. In April 2023, they announced a new services agreement that removed content that allowed developers to follow the previous version of the Terms of Service. Instead, the new agreement introduces a clause that appears to indicate the possibility of conflicts of interest.
In response to Unity’s price change, game developers have banded together to encourage a rethink of the price change. This merger involving well-known companies threatens Unity’s revenue. Manufacturers are frustrated not only financially but also due to transparency violations. The conflict marked a significant change in Unity’s relationship with its user base.