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Unity Engine = Finished

View Nelson Schneider's Profile

By Nelson Schneider - 09/17/23 at 01:42 AM CT

This week, the corporate overlords that control the second-most-popular canned game development engine, commonly known as Unity, followed in the footsteps of Wizards of the Coast in being the second American corporation in 2023 to completely self-destruct after announcing intentions to reform their basic licensing structure in order to capture more profits. Not content to receive flat licensing fees from studios that wish to use their engine, and no longer feeling magnanimous with their engine’s free “Personal” licensing tier, Unity’s corporate overlord, John Riccitiello, came up with a scheme to charge developers who use Unity a so-called “per-install” fee, requiring them to pay upwards of 20 cents every time a game is installed – NOT purchased, but INSTALLED!

In a show of… ahem… unity, gamers and the predominantly-Indie-tier developers who use the engine have collectively decided that Unity is now WORSE than multi-year-worst-corporation-winner-loser, Electronic Arts. As a result, Unity has, obliviously, created an absolute legal nightmare for itself, while its share prices dropped a meager 5% (I seriously would have expected a complete cratering of the share value, but sometimes the Market can be incredibly sluggish to respond to change).

Youtuber, Upper Echelon, produced an in-depth two-part reaction to the Unity news that does into all manner of gory details that I emphatically recommend watching.

None of these changes will take effect until January 1 of 2024, however, leaving Unity a few hectic Holiday Season months to backpedal or try to salvage their reputation and business model. If they choose to go through with it, though, I fear that there will be a mass-delisting of the huge number of Indie games that use the Unity Engine, especially when numerous developers of popular Unity-based games have already gone on the record with plans to do just that, or possibly rebuild their games from scratch on a new skeleton.

The worst part of all this from my perspective, though, is that Unity isn’t even particularly good! In nearly all of my reviews of Indie games, I have to call out some quirk of the Unity Engine that various neophyte developers fail to squash, leaving the final experience presented by most Unity games far less polished than they could be. Of course, the fact that Unity allows neophyte developers to drastically cut the time it takes to build a game from scratch is why it became so popular in the first place, with only Epic Games’ Unreal Engine topping it in market share. Of course, if Unity doesn’t pull off an Xbox 180 (by turning 360 degrees away from their current trajectory and moonwalking it back), that marketshare is going to drop off, HARD, with the plethora of other free-to-use or flat-licensed engines rising up to take its place. It is mindboggling that the Corpo stooges still think they can get away with this kind of thing.

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