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[Unity] The place where game devs unite to bitch about a game engine

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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    Scooter wrote: »
    Basically it's going to be on devs to get into fights with customer service to try and 'prove' that some certain number of installs must have been bundles, or pirates, or something. There's no way you're gonna be able to tell Unity "Hey I sold 30k bundle keys" and Unity is just gonna go "ok sir have 30k free installs added to your account", even if it's true.

    That'll also be a time sink. Just like YouTube randomly delisting videos and then you """just""" have to appeal. Wasting time arguing with these people is a big fat WOMBAT

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    -Loki--Loki- Don't pee in my mouth and tell me it's raining. Registered User regular
    That's offensive to wombats.

    They're adorable, leave them alone.

    shutterstock_1125465338.jpg

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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    Look, unless they can reach their deliverables a career as software dev is just not feasible.

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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    Aegeri wrote: »
    It reminds me of the debacle with Wizards of the coast and the OGL.

    It doesn't matter if it's walked back or not, the fact they played their hand and showed they were willing to just change terms to screw you means they can't be trusted. When games take 3-5 years to develop, do you want to rely on a mendacious and highly unreliable partner for your future security and, if you're a small company, the security of the people you employ?

    Absolutely no way would I do so.

    I guess Unity wanted an even starker example of piercing the Trust Thermocline

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    DacDac Registered User regular
    CEO John Riccitiello sold 2,000 shares a week before Unity revealed its Runtime Fee (per Kotaku)

    IANAL and I don't know how much stock they normally trade week to week but that seems like something the SEC might want to look at. IDK. Seems sus.

    Steam: catseye543
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    Origin: ShogunGunshow
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    Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    Dibbit wrote: »
    All of this is awful. I think it would be cheaper to work into your budgets to change engines than to release on Unity now. Like it's such a huge fuck you to all of your customers.

    Here's a reddit thread of a company who will, come Jan. 2024, pay 108% of their gross revenue in licensing fees to unity.

    So, yeah, their company either ends in 4 months, or they need to beg unity for alternate arrangements.
    (On of the reasons they are going broke is that they make kids mobile games, and they refuse to do advertisement, relying on voluntary in app purchases.

    Ooh, the thread also indicates that this all applies retroactively to already released games.

    I wonder what happens if you try to discontinue a game from Steam because you can't afford people from downloading it anymore, I'm pretty sure that Steam takes a dim view on plucking games out of libraries, on the other hand, they're not going to cover the redownload cost, are they?

    (Also, what happens to game companies that have dissolved, Will Unity send a collection agency to cover ongoing downloads while you now work at McDonalds?)

    /looks at the rest of that subreddit

    wow Unity really stepped in it haha

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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    Dac wrote: »
    CEO John Riccitiello sold 2,000 shares a week before Unity revealed its Runtime Fee (per Kotaku)

    IANAL and I don't know how much stock they normally trade week to week but that seems like something the SEC might want to look at. IDK. Seems sus.

    It is completely normal and an extremely small amount of stock relative to his compensation and ownership. Selling stock is never a good sign, but it's also rarely a bad sign, especially when done routinely.

    It also wouldn't make sense for him, as the CEO, to push out a change designed to tank the company whose stock he is paid in just to sell off a relatively small number of shares.

    The change sucks because they're dumb and greedy not because they're smart and doing 5d stock manipulation. They literally had no idea how the changes would work, they weren't prepared to do insider trading on them

    I ate an engineer
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    Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    Vontre wrote: »
    Dibbit wrote: »
    Ooh No!

    There has been an uproar in Unity land, the makers of a more-or-less fine Game Engine, more-or-less beloved by developers for working in the language C#, ooh, and it also has an easy to use visual editor, whatever.

    The problem is this post:
    https://blog.unity.com/news/plan-pricing-and-packaging-updates

    Where they announce the following:
    • Hey, going forward, we're going to charge a small amount (0.20$, but can be a lot lower if you have a higher tier of Unity) per game install for projects build on our engine.
    • Don't worry, there is a generous threshold, below which, you never have to pay, there is a fancy table, but basically, there are no costs if you have less then $200k in revenue and less then 200k installs
    • Every developer also gets access to a few of our dev tools, mostly useless things like "200 build minutes." As a developer, free build minutes are kind of like getting a free pencil from a company: Virtually useless, and if you want to do fancy things, you need to buy your own fancier pencil..euhm... CI/CD system anyway.

    On the surface of it, it doesn't sound THAT bad, but the problem is in the fine print:

    What's not really obvious unless you read it, is that the 20 cents is PER INSTALL. A lot of things are not clear , but there are concerns:
    • If you have a demo version of the game, and 4000 people try it out, that's 800$ extra you have to account for.
    • If you have a user base of 10.000 (and at 20$ as an "indie game price" that comes out to 200k in revenue) if you release a monthly patch --something that's not unreasonable nowadays with customers expectation of having at least a year of active support after release-- you're looking at a potential of 24k in costs just for releasing it. (This has the wildly optimist view of everyone playing your game, I would guess the retention rate to be more at the 20%, so you'll only be in the hole for 4k, but still, that's some money)
    • Installs by pirates count, as normally pirated games are only cracked to remove obstacles, and will leave telemetry in tact. Some games have as high as a 90% piracy rate, and where it used to be just a potential "lost sale" to be angry about, and maybe some undeserving support time going to them, you now have pirates directly impacting your bottom line.
    • While a sale is a one time thing, the price is per install, this means that you have a limited income stream, and an unknown, but potentially unlimited cost per copy of the game you sell, obviously, it will take a lot of installs before the game starts eating into your profits, but even 25 installs (easy to reach if you realize how patching is mostly just a new install over the old one) per customer is probably eating up all the profit you'll ever see from a game.
    • There were promises that Unity would be a better then all those other engines, and not go for predatory per sales license fees, this has now been broken

    Now, there are some good counter points:
    • You need to make 200k and sell 200k copies before this all start, and if you make that much, then this is just another operating cost you can easily bear.
    • Other studios, such as Unreal, also ask money per sale if you make over a million in revenue. (Although that's per sale, not per install)
    • Most indie devs make exactly negative 2 dollars on their crapware, so this only impacts a handful of good studios, and they can bear it, and hopefully shovelware will cease.


    I would love to hear more people about this, I personally am uncertain on how it will affect me, as I have the following:
    1. For this to be an issue, I have to have success, and if I have success, I can afford it.
    2. On the other hand, I already have a different company, and I can tell you, 200k in revenue is not really "success", that's 2 programmers worth of resources. Heck, it might be 1 good programmer worth of resources.

    I'm responding to this immediately. I know it may seem this way to devs who have not operated a game that makes some money, but this is 100% false. These thresholds are based on revenue. Not profit. 200k in revenue is basically starvation wages for a full time indie team of 2 people. The higher tier threshold of $1m is also very meager wages for a team of 10, which is still small. And the install thresholds are based on... installs, which do not actually generate revenue. Astoundingly, a lot of Unity's business is in mobile free to play games, which can make extremely little per install depending on the genre and user demographic. There is real potential for mid-sized businesses to simply fold under these fees if they are actually forced to pay them, even at Pro or Enterprise tier. Installs are not something the dev has any control over, and they don't actually generate money!


    Yeah the 200k thing in revenue is a meaningless sop to make people think “oh they made 200k they are rich who cares amirite?”.

    200k in revenue is so peanuts as to be irrelevant. Even in mobile games apple gets 30%. So that’s $140k in actual revenue the dev sees. Maybe enough to pay 3 employees at bare minimum levels and some minimal office space.

    Say you’re a indie mobile game developer, you price at $2, sell 100,000. .20c a download is going to be $20,000. That’s probably going to be enough to price you out of the market entirely.

    Exempting under $200,000 in revenue isn’t some kind of huge concession to indies, any project above hobbyist level is going to hit that. Some hobbyist projects probably.

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    Zilla360Zilla360 21st Century. |She/Her| Trans* Woman In Aviators Firing A Bazooka. ⚛️Registered User regular
    I am astonished that there hasn't been a retraction yet. I'm losing a bet here.

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    FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    Zilla360 wrote: »
    I am astonished that there hasn't been a retraction yet. I'm losing a bet here.

    The walkback already started.

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    EtiowsaEtiowsa Registered User regular
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Zilla360 wrote: »
    I am astonished that there hasn't been a retraction yet. I'm losing a bet here.

    The walkback already started.

    They haven't walked anything back, they've just said some words about about cases where the charges would be extra stupid. They're still full steam ahead atm.

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    Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    I'm trying to understand how they could possibly do this retroactively. That's lawsuit territory. Developers used the engine based on a specific license agreement. Unity changing the agreement to charge more after the fact can not hold up in court. That makes no sense.

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    Nova_CNova_C I have the need The need for speedRegistered User regular
    Also, I can't help but think they're intentionally killing the engine, but trying to squeeze as much revenue out of it before they do. No one is going to use unity with this license.

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    rahkeesh2000rahkeesh2000 Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    It feels like they don't care at all about the smaller-tier devs using this engine and want to run them off really. Just focus on milking the top earners, collateral damage doesn't matter.

    rahkeesh2000 on
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    danxdanx Registered User regular

    /looks at the rest of that subreddit

    wow Unity really stepped in it haha

    The banner pic of John Riccitiello with a shit eating is amazing.

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    MuzzmuzzMuzzmuzz Registered User regular
    I feel horrible because all this time, I thought Unreal and Unity were the same game engine, just because they both start with U.

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    danxdanx Registered User regular
    It’s easy.

    Tim Sweeney is a programming language nerd and programming languages are not real.

    John Riccitiello is a run the business into the ground nerd and is one with the modern day capitalist hive mind.

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    ZekZek Registered User regular
    Nova_C wrote: »
    Also, I can't help but think they're intentionally killing the engine, but trying to squeeze as much revenue out of it before they do. No one is going to use unity with this license.

    I'm tempted to think that but then I think that no! It's just dumb!

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    Lucid_SeraphLucid_Seraph TealDeer MarylandRegistered User regular
    The thing about people with MBAs is that a lot of them are just dumb as rocks and do not have a single thought in their head beyond Line Go Up.

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    PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    Zek wrote: »
    Nova_C wrote: »
    Also, I can't help but think they're intentionally killing the engine, but trying to squeeze as much revenue out of it before they do. No one is going to use unity with this license.

    I'm tempted to think that but then I think that no! It's just dumb!

    Also they quadrupled R&D budgets over the last few years. You don't do that if you are planning on just extracting revenue

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    ThegreatcowThegreatcow Lord of All Bacons Washington State - It's Wet up here innit? Registered User regular
    Yeah from the scuttlebut following this leaking out from alleged Unity devs posting on twitter it sounds like the lower level folks were blindsided by this and are now scrambling for damage control. Not sure how they can walk this back either way without a full 100% retraction

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    KoopahTroopahKoopahTroopah The koopas, the troopas. Philadelphia, PARegistered User regular
    https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video-game-company-unity-closes-offices-following-death-threat-1.1971525
    Unity Technologies Inc. canceled a planned town hall and closed two offices Thursday after receiving what it said was a credible death threat in the wake of a controversial pricing decision earlier this week.

    The company was “made aware of a potential threat to some of our offices" and has "taken immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of our employees,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Unity is closing offices that could be potential targets on Thursday and Friday, and is “fully cooperating with law enforcement.

    :disappointed: Would not be surprised if it was legitimate, and it's important that they take it seriously.

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    jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    I am

    jungleroomx on
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    jungleroomxjungleroomx It's never too many graves, it's always not enough shovels Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    so late

    jungleroomx on
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    EspantaPajaroEspantaPajaro Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    What I’m most shocked about is that they think they will charge MS for gamepass downloads. How fucking stupid are you ?

    EspantaPajaro on
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    ThegreatcowThegreatcow Lord of All Bacons Washington State - It's Wet up here innit? Registered User regular
    What I’m most shocked about is that they hunk they will charge MS for gamepass downloads. How fucking stupid are you ?

    For real, short of the heavy hitters like Genshin Impact or folks like that, they are not going to pony up the activation fees for pretty much any Unity game. Barring that they'll probably take a much larger cut to having the game on gamepass thus negating any benefit from having it on there in the first place.

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    AldoAldo Hippo Hooray Registered User regular
    https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/video-game-company-unity-closes-offices-following-death-threat-1.1971525
    Unity Technologies Inc. canceled a planned town hall and closed two offices Thursday after receiving what it said was a credible death threat in the wake of a controversial pricing decision earlier this week.

    The company was “made aware of a potential threat to some of our offices" and has "taken immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of our employees,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Unity is closing offices that could be potential targets on Thursday and Friday, and is “fully cooperating with law enforcement.

    :disappointed: Would not be surprised if it was legitimate, and it's important that they take it seriously.

    Absolutely, people with guns are no laughing matter. Would the townhall be to inform their employees about their plans? It's so absurd.

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    ScooterScooter Registered User regular
    Etiowsa wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Zilla360 wrote: »
    I am astonished that there hasn't been a retraction yet. I'm losing a bet here.

    The walkback already started.

    They haven't walked anything back, they've just said some words about about cases where the charges would be extra stupid. They're still full steam ahead atm.

    They did walk back the part about 'every individual time someone plays a browser game we're going to charge 20 cents', which was one of the more insane parts.

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    BahamutZEROBahamutZERO Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited September 2023
    Nova_C wrote: »
    I'm trying to understand how they could possibly do this retroactively. That's lawsuit territory. Developers used the engine based on a specific license agreement. Unity changing the agreement to charge more after the fact can not hold up in court. That makes no sense.

    The story I've heard randomly on the internet today is that Unity:
    -put their license agreement on github so people could easily track changes to it and see old versions, back in 2019 in response to some change they tried to sneak through that people were pissed off about, to go 'we will be more transparent about license changes in the future.' And they added a clause to the license that promised that developers would be able to opt to keep using their original license agreement if they didn't approve of a change.
    -silently scrubbed this github repo out of existence in 2022
    -in january 2023 removed the clause that you can opt out of changes for your existing licenses, and apparently no one noticed.

    That said retroactive unilateral contract changes are nonsense in contract law, and I think there's a good chance the courts decide this move is just flat out illegal.

    BahamutZERO on
    BahamutZERO.gif
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    VontreVontre Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    afaik really big studios like MiHoYo have forked source code licenses or long term enterprise contracts and won't be affected. It seems like their honest to god plan is to just bankrupt a few small to mid tier mobile devs and loot whatever they can from the corpse. I hope Unity is wiped from the face of the earth by regulators or the courts or.. something. I think the only way out of this that doesn't completely fuck the entire ecosystem is if they are bought out by a massive tech co that immediately walks back everything (some jabber about Microsoft on reddit because Unity does a lot for C# adoption).

    Vontre on
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    VontreVontre Registered User regular
    Unity is also basically *the* game engine in China, and I have no idea how that fits into any of this.

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    Albino BunnyAlbino Bunny Jackie Registered User regular
    A really big thing about Unity's legal ability to charge devs: If they could actually measure real and fraudulent installs they would possess the single post powerful anti piracy technology ever concieved.

    So all Unity olive branches based on that which don't involve selling that should involve share holders mad they've invented the da vinci code of anti priate codes but aren't making money off it.

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    Jealous DevaJealous Deva Registered User regular
    Vontre wrote: »
    Unity is also basically *the* game engine in China, and I have no idea how that fits into any of this.

    If it looks like it hurts chinas software development at all then what happens is a Chinese company comes out with an engine that is Unity with the serial numbers filed off, unity complains about IP and the Chinese government laughs at them.

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    DibbitDibbit Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Vontre wrote: »
    afaik really big studios like MiHoYo have forked source code licenses or long term enterprise contracts and won't be affected. It seems like their honest to god plan is to just bankrupt a few small to mid tier mobile devs and loot whatever they can from the corpse. I hope Unity is wiped from the face of the earth by regulators or the courts or.. something. I think the only way out of this that doesn't completely fuck the entire ecosystem is if they are bought out by a massive tech co that immediately walks back everything (some jabber about Microsoft on reddit because Unity does a lot for C# adoption).

    I don't think Microsoft buying Unity is all that likely, but it's not a completely bonkers idea.
    Microsoft has helped out Unity quite a lot in the past, These are at the top of my head, so.. you know... might be wrong, but Microsoft has done quite a few things for Unity, for instance:
    • C# has a bit of a weird license, I don't remember quite how it goes, but I think the specs were open source, but the compiler was proprietary? This meant that while C# programs could run on Linux, they ran on a project known as Mono. Mono was (is?) an opensource interpretation of .Net and wasn't bad, but it also wasn't good. It was just 4 guys in a garage implementing a Microsoft thing on Linux. Eventually, Microsoft embraced open source, and started improving on it, and the .Net team basically did a lot of work to get .Net working on non-windows Machines. Unity used Mono and thus were aided a lot by this move.
    • Microsoft wrote a Plugin so you could use Visual Studio to write code for Unity, finally giving it a good IDE.
    • Microsoft choose Unity as their development platform for their Hololens darling, probably because they liked C#
    • Microsoft has donated a lot of Azure cloud resources to Unity, for reasons I don't remember. I think Unity wants to be a cloud native development platform? Something, something EA CEO.
    • Microsoft has a vested interest in making Unity projects run well on Windows & Xbox, and has been known to lend assistance with the Unity team so it builds right on DirectX / Windows / Xbox (other console manufactures do this too, so "meh?")

    And I think there were a few more things, but in short, Microsoft has found it in its interest to make Unity better. Not sure if they like it well enough to spend a few Billion on it, though.

    Dibbit on
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    GSMGSM Registered User regular
    edited September 2023
    Vontre wrote: »
    Unity is also basically *the* game engine in China, and I have no idea how that fits into any of this.

    My cyberpunk prediction for this situation:
    A mysterious new Chinese-government-backed game engine appears out of nowhere, but data forensics quickly reveals that it was adapted from a stolen copy of the entire current codebase for Unity. All attempts at international litigation are roundly ignored.

    edit: beaten.

    GSM on
    We'll get back there someday.
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    exisexis Registered User regular
    Scooter wrote: »
    Yeah, and they aren't even telling you anywhere right now what your current 'install' count is. Everyone's going to have to make a wild guess what their bill is gonna be when it starts off.
    A really big thing about Unity's legal ability to charge devs: If they could actually measure real and fraudulent installs they would possess the single post powerful anti piracy technology ever concieved.

    So all Unity olive branches based on that which don't involve selling that should involve share holders mad they've invented the da vinci code of anti priate codes but aren't making money off it.

    If they were going to go ahead and roll this change out they should have already surfaced the stats they claim that they're able to collect to developers. Then they could say "hey we're introducing this [terrible] change - if you want to know how much it's going to cost you, go look at your handy metrics dashboard where we tell you how many unique installs you have according to us". But of course the super secret proprietary solution they've built for magically detecting installs, ensuring that they're unique, weren't part of charity bundles, weren't pirated, etc - doesn't exist, so they can't.

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    GSMGSM Registered User regular
    Unity's merger with ironSource is probably why they think they have the technology to track installs. They'll just do it through, you know, malware.

    We'll get back there someday.
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    PhyphorPhyphor Building Planet Busters Tasting FruitRegistered User regular
    It's not that hard to know if software is pirated. Pirates only change enough to get it to work, removing bits that aren't affecting the ability to run it would just slow them down and be more work

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    Zilla360Zilla360 21st Century. |She/Her| Trans* Woman In Aviators Firing A Bazooka. ⚛️Registered User regular
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    DisruptedCapitalistDisruptedCapitalist I swear! Registered User regular
    Definitely has some "no it's the children who are wrong" vibes.

    "Simple, real stupidity beats artificial intelligence every time." -Mustrum Ridcully in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather p. 142 (HarperPrism 1996)
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