Unity apologizes and goes back to the drawing board with its ill-conceived runtime fee

Recap: If you have followed the recent Unity drama, you know it has been a public relations nightmare from day one. Unity springs an ill-planned, unexpected, and poorly explained fee on developers. Developers fly into an outrage. Unity tries to clarify but confuses the community even more. More backlash – and that was all within a few days last week.

Over the weekend, Unity apologized to developers for its poor communication of the runtime fee and promised to rework it with feedback from the community.

“We have heard you. We apologize for the confusion and angst the runtime fee policy we announced on Tuesday caused,” the company said via X (formerly Twitter). “We are listening, talking to our team members, community, customers, and partners, and will be making changes to the policy.”

The post did not mention specifics but did say that Unity would have more information “in a couple of days.”

Unfortunately, tempers are still high, and judging by the response to the tweet, many have little confidence that Unity will provide a better solution. Most commenters think its post is just the PR department running damage control while the rule makers find a way to reword the plan to make it go down easier.

Twitch streamer Cohh Carnage said, “We have heard you. We have not listened to you. Here is a bunch of marketing talk to make you think we’re doing something when in actuality we’re just figuring out how to keep doing what we’ve already decided to do. Thanks for your honest and critical feedback. What? Seriously.”

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Others argued that executives, including CEO John Riccitiello, dumped tens of thousands of shares before the announcement as proof that Unity execs knew their monetization change was terrible. They suggest their determination to plow forward anyway indicates that the game engine developer is committed to the runtime fee come hell or high water. It must be mentioned that there is no evidence that the stock trades were illegal and no employees stand officially accused of insider trading.

Gaming browser Opera GX tried to lighten the mood with the Frog of Shame:

As of publication, the score is Frog: 30,850 and Unity: 16,616. Opera added that it will keep posting the Frog of Shame until Unity reverses the policy. Many others are calling for a complete rollback as well. There’s even talk of a lawsuit.

Axios notes that indie studio Strange Scaffold, the maker of Stranger Things VR, is considering initiating a class action lawsuit against Unity. The developer’s founder and creative director, Xalavier Nelson Jr., said he has talked with “some of the most significant” Unity game developers about taking legal action.

Image credit: Peq42