Unity Says Distributors Like Microsoft Will Have To Cover New Runtime Costs

A game won't be off the hook simply because it's on Game Pass.

Story Highlights

  • Unity has introduced a new policy to charge developers based on video game installations. 
  • This has sparked outrage from several studios, including Aggro Crab, whose games are on Game Pass.
  • The studio claims their game will be available for free on Game Pass, and they might have to pay huge amounts in fees.
  • Unity has clarified that in the case of Game Pass and similar services, the payment would be covered by distributors like Microsoft. 

Unity recently sparked outrage when the company announced a new policy to charge developers a fee based on the number of game installations. According to the company, developers who meet a certain threshold for revenue and lifetime installation metrics would have to pay for new runtime costs. The exact cost per installation varies quite a bit, with Unity Pro and Enterprise users generally paying less than Unity Personal and Plus users.

Tons of developers have voiced their concerns regarding this change. Among them is Aggro Crab, who took to Twitter to discuss the matter. The devs stated that as a studio with a highly anticipated game coming to Xbox Game Pass in 2024, these changes would be very problematic for them. Their game, Another Crab’s Treasure will be free to install for the 25 million Game Pass subscribers

If even a fraction of those users download the game, Unity could take a massive fee which would put a strain on the studio. This would threaten their stability and dent their income. This isn’t even considering sales on other platforms, pirated installs, or even multiple installs done by a single user. Many studios hoped that games available in Game Pass would be an exception to this new change.

But as it turns out, Unity has other plans. Marc Whitten, president of Create Solutions at Unity, claimed developers like Aggro Crab would not be let off the hook. However, instead of them having to pay the fee, it’d go directly to the distributors. In the case of Game Pass, that’d be Microsoft. Whitten also clarified that runtime fees wouldn’t be charged for installations of game demos. However, early access games would still be charged.

While it’s unclear just how damage this policy change might end up doing, several studios have voiced their opinions. Development studio Innersloth, makers of Among Us, tweeted earlier this week. They said that this new change would harm fellow game studios, of all budgets and sizes. Innersloth also mentioned if this policy went through, they’d have to delay content and features to port their game elsewhere.

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Interestingly, Whitten estimates only 10% of Unity’s developers will even have to pay any fees. This is based on the thresholds games need to hit. Still, many have pointed out how this policy has a ton of issues, especially considering how repeated installs lead to additional charges. Players could organize large-scale installation campaigns as a way of sabotaging a company. 

Microsoft has yet to officially comment on this. But people have already begun speculating what their legal team could be preparing to dish out. Some gamers even think this might just be the one issue where Sony and Microsoft agree for once. Others think that this new policy will simply cause even more games to be built on Unreal Engine.

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Amama Farrukh is a News Reporter on eXputer who’s been passionate about playing and writing about games since an early age. As a die-hard God of War fan, she’s really into gory hack-and-slash titles that get her adrenaline pumping. She’s got a bachelor's in Business Administration and several years of experience reporting on the gaming industry. Experience: 3+ Years || Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration || Previously worked as a Freelancer || Published 100+ News Stories

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