The video game industry is in an uproar after Unity, an extremely popular tool for making games, announced it will begin charging developers a fee every time someone installs their game. Now, mobile studios with billions of downloads are striking back with a pledge to turn off ads that are a source of revenue for Unity.
In an open letter that was created on Thursday, the studios say that Unity’s new “runtime fee,” as the install fee is called, “jeopardizes small and large game developers alike, made without any industry consultation.”
“While we've always viewed our work as a collaborative effort, this decision blindsided us. With one stroke of the pen, you've put hundreds of studios at risk, all without consultation or dialogue,” the letter, signed by over a dozen companies, states. “To put it in relatable terms—what if automakers suddenly decided to charge us for every mile driven on the car that you bought a year ago? The impact on consumers and the industry at large would be seismic.”
The letter goes on to say that the studios that have signed the letter wil “turn off all IronSource and Unity Ads monetization across our projects until these changes are reconsidered,” and that they urge others who share this stance to do the same.
“The rules have changed, and the stakes are simply too high,” the letter states.
Unity made over a billion dollars in revenue last year, largely from the subscription fees it charges developers and ads. In Q3 2022, Unity posted revenue of $171 million from Operate Solutions, which includes ads. Despite this, the company is not profitable, leading it to make the drastic pricing change that is now angering developers. With the new runtime fee, set to be introduced on January 1, 2024, Unity will charge developers up to 20 cents per install once they reach a threshold of revenue.
The letter’s signatories collectively account for billions of game installs. SayGames, a mobile game developer that updated its website to advertise the letter and encourage others to sign, boasts over 4 billion downloads globally, encompassing titles such as My Perfect Hotel and Johnny Trigger: Action Shooter.
Studios with their names attached to the letter include Azur Games, Voodoo, Homa, Century Games, and 15 others. Motherboard reached out to several of the signatories to confirm their participation but did not receive an immediate response. Unity also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.