Unity’s runtime fee scheme sees game devs shut off Unity ads and employees turn in resignations


The tire fire of Unity’s decision to impose “runtime fees” on studios that use the engine continues to burn bright and hot. Game developers who are already incensed at the scheme are now taking action beyond simply writing upset blog posts and tweets; some are now cutting Unity off from ad revenue.

A group of 16 mobile game studios, including Azur Games, Voodoo, Homa, and Century Games, have removed Unity and IronSource ad SDKs in all of their titles in protest of the fees and are urging other studios to join in on the boycott. “The Runtime Fee is an unacceptable shift in our partnership with Unity that needs to be immediately canceled,” reads part of the open letter from the studios. “The rules have changed, and the stakes are simply too high.”

Developers are otherwise continuing to announce their displeasure and wholesale dropping of the Unity engine over the runtime fees, the latest of which being Mega Crit, developer of the popular card-based roguelike Slay the Spire, which was using Unity to develop a new title until recently. “Despite the immense amount of time and effort our team has already poured into development on our new title, we will be migrating to a new engine unless the changes are completely reverted,” reads part of the studio’s statement. “We have never made a public statement before. That is how badly you fucked up.”

Unity employees are also displeased with the company’s decision according to reports from a former senior software engineer, who tendered his resignation earlier this week and claims that employees who tried to fight back against the decision have already left. “I assure you we fought like hell against this, brought up all the points everyone has, were told answers were coming, and then the announcement went out without warning,” he writes. “Those of us who care are out — more resignations coming end of week.”

Employee displeasure appears to be the root cause of the “credible death threat” that Unity cited as a reason to shut down multiple offices and cancel a town hall meeting yesterday: Polygon’s initial report of the threat has been updated with a statement from the San Francisco police department, which explains that officers responded to a threat call and “met with a reporting party who informed them that an employee made a threat towards his employer using social media” from out of state. The person who called in the threat was “advised to contact the jurisdiction in which the incident occurred, and officers took a courtesy report.”

Finally, a Reddit thread is tracking Unity’s alleged malfeasance, claiming that the company silently removed their Github repo to track license changes sometime around June, then removed a license clause that let developers use the engine TOS that their game shipped with in order to impose fees on already shipped titles. “After this behavior, are we meant to trust they won’t increase these fees, or add new fees in the future?” the post reads. “I for one do not.”

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