A few weeks ago, Unity announced a big change in their pricing model for game developers. They were moving from a paying upfront model to a monthly subscription model to better accommodate upcoming and smaller game developers. Additionally the ability to publish on mobile (which includes Android TV) became a full feature, not requiring a separate license.
This also allows for longevity of the software, and likely a big reason why Unity is changing. Now users will always have access to the current version of Unity due to getting included updates. This means developers no longer stick to old versions that deprecate because they are unwilling or unable to pay for a large update and change their workflow.
Users on the other hand have not all agreed that this is a good change. Subscription-based payments may seem like greedy moves by the company to get more profit as the user has to pay multiple times rather than once, even if they may pay less overall. Still, in response to user feedback, Unity is updating their pricing policy to be more accommodating of smaller developers. In fact, the revenue cap for Unity Plus has doubled to $200k so medium-level game studios are able to save more.
Every game studio will now have more control over the default “Powered by Unity” splash you see at the beginning of a game including the free version. It won’t be complete control, developers will be able to add a blurred background image and a company logo, but it gives each one more customization than before.
For those who currently have paid in full for Unity, developers will be able to transition to a subscription-based model at a lower than normal price. This applies to both Unity Pro or allowing developers to switch down to Unity Plus if they now fit into the $200k cap. This transition is only available until March 2017, when Unity 5 stops getting updates.
Pay to Own
The news may hit the biggest studios hard seeing as they may already be paying a lot upfront to own the Unity Pro license. To remedy this, Unity is adding a “Pay to Own” model for Unity Pro. Developers who have paid 24 months will be able to maintain the current license and stop the monthly payments. They will no longer get new updates (until they resume the subscription), but will get access to small patches if necessary. This may be a good compromise for those who may want to pay on a monthly basis without shelling out more than they want.
Unity is at the heart of indie gaming today. Many developers use this program to generate games they can publish on desktops, phones, and gaming consoles. Having a lower cost to get started with publishing should help more developers sign up for the lower tier, seeing as they can pay in small monthly payments for a short period of time. What are your thoughts on this pricing model? Let us know in the comments below.