Unity’s New Pricing: A Wake-up Call on the Importance of Open Source in Gaming

Recently Unity announced a pricing update which changes the pricing model from a simple pay per seat to a model whereby developers have to pay per install. This isn’t restricted to paid installs or plays; it applies to every plain install.

This price change has some particularly grave consequences on mobile where revenue per install is highly variable. According to Ironsource (A Unity company) for example, the average revenue per ad impression is $0.02. Unity would like to charge $0.20 per install after your app has made $200,000 over the past year. What this means is that every one of your users has to see at least 10 ads after installing your app to not have it cost you money. These numbers are averages. If your app is more popular in emerging markets then the revenue per ad would be significantly lower, making the problem far worse.

To make matters (even) worse, this change will be done retroactively on existing applications as well.

How can they get away with this?

It’s like if Microsoft decided that you had to pay per person who read your document made in Word. If they did you’d just stop using Word and instead switch over to Google Docs. An inconvenience perhaps, but not an existential threat to your survival as a document editor.

Video games, however, are not like this. Developing a game is a long, intricate process, often spanning months or even years. After this work is done simply jumping ship to a different engine is not easy requiring considerable amount of time and money. If it is possible at all, perhaps the development team of the game has since disbanded.

Pray they don’t alter the deal further…

How open source helps

Open source game engines, such as Godot engine, protect your work by giving you rights to the engine that cannot be taken away, or altered. Under Godot’s MIT license every user gets the rights to use the engine as they see fit, modify and distribute it, the only requirement being that you must acknowledge the original creators and cannot claim the engine as your own creation. Note that this applies only to the engine! Your game is your own!

Why not just switch to Unreal engine?

While Unreal engine currently does not have terms like Unity’s, there’s nothing stopping them from doing something similar. In fact if Unity manages to get away with this it seems likely they will follow suit.

How does Ramatak fit into this story?

The Ramatak mobile studio enhances the open source Godot engine with the things you need for a mobile game: Ads, in app purchases, and analytics. And while Ramatak does charge for these services, if we were to try to alter the deal in way you are uncomfortable with you can simply take your game and use the open source version instead. You’d lose access to the Ramatak specific enhancements but your game is yours to do with as you please.

To underscore this point further: The first publication on our site talks about how we consider our relationship with our users. We must simply offer something our users want since switching away from our offering to the open source version is so easy.

In conclusion

The (mobile) gaming landscape changes all the time, and we can’t predict what the next “big thing” will be. By using an open source engine you can be sure that whatever that “next thing” is, the engine won’t keep you from taking advantage of it. Nor would the engine be able to dictate your monetization strategy for you.

With Ramatak mobile studio, developers get the best of both worlds: the freedom and security of an open-source engine and the advanced, tailored features that modern mobile games require.

And most importantly: We can’t alter the deal.

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