Unity has changed its pricing model, and game developers are pissed off
Comment of the Day

September 13 2023

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Unity has changed its pricing model, and game developers are pissed off

This article from the Verge may be of interest. Here is a section:

“Unity Plus is being retired for new subscribers effective today, September 12, 2023, to simplify the number of plans we offer,” Unity wrote. “Existing subscribers do not need to take immediate action and will receive an email mid-October with an offer to upgrade to Unity Pro, for one year, at the current Unity Plus price.”

A Unity Plus subscription was about $400 per year. After that one year, however, it stands to reason that those former Plus users will have to pay the new Pro rate, which is currently over $2,000 per year.

Developers are also concerned these new fees could impact digital preservation efforts as now game makers are seemingly incentivized to delist older games so they aren’t charged for them. There’s also the question of how Unity plans on tracking installs and whether or not such tools run afoul of government privacy laws. Here’s a tweet from the official Unity account explaining how it intends to monitor a game’s installs.

Eoin Treacy's view

The basic business model for software companies is to give it away for free so they can build an installed base. Then make the product good enough that it is indispensable to the end user. Then start charging for it in the hope enough users will accept the change to sustain the business. The companies that have succeeded in implementing a charging model like Google and Meta Platforms have multiplied in value. Those which have failed like Twitter have not.

There are other game development packages so Unity has stayed free/low cost for longer than they may have wished. The collapse in the share price, higher rates, and less money available for loss making ventures probably accelerated the transition. The company is now expected to go cashflow positive this year.

Artisanal game developers are unlikely to survive during this transition and will need to find alternative engines to build on. Unity is betting its sector leading 3-D rendering will provide it with a foothold in the growing VR games/experiences sector which will be difficult to replicate elsewhere. That’s still an emerging sector so there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the transition.

The share remains within its base formation. A sustained move above $50 will be required to signal a return to medium-term demand dominance.

Roblox has also positioned itself as a champion of the metaverse/VR theme. The share is barely steady at the lower side of its two-year range.

Tencent needs to break the nine-month sequence of lower rally highs to confirm a return to demand dominance. 

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