Game Developers Irate Over 'Phenomenally Unpopular' Fee

Unity Technologies shuts 2 offices after death threat comes in over controversial new cost
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2023 11:12 AM CDT
Video Game Giant's New Fee Results in a Death Threat
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/gleitfrosch)

Earlier this week, Unity Technologies, a video game software company based in San Francisco, made an announcement that roiled the gaming world: It would begin charging developers a 20-cent fee each time a user installed one of its games, a "phenomenally unpopular" move that set off "widespread anger, confusion, and disbelief," per Mashable. Now, the firm has nixed a town hall and shut two of its offices for the rest of the workweek, after it said it received a credible death threat over the controversy, reports Bloomberg.

The pricing decision, which is set to go into effect on Jan. 1, would require developers who use Unity Engine software as the foundation for their games to pay the new fee, and the announcement initially had critics believing that included reinstalls and pirated copies, setting off the backlash. That's not the case, as Unity clarified in a Wednesday tweet thread, per the Hill. "More than 90% of our customers will not be affected by this change," the company wrote. "Customers who will be impacted are generally those who have found a substantial scale in downloads and revenue and have reached both our install and revenue thresholds."

The company lists those thresholds as starting at 200,000 lifetime installs and $200,000 in revenue. It added that the fee was a one-time charge for new installs only. That didn't pacify everyone, and the company was "made aware of a potential threat to some of our offices," a spokesperson said in a statement. Unity's home base in San Francisco and an office in Austin, Texas, were closed Thursday and Friday after the threat came in, with CEO John Riccitiello's scheduled speech to staff on Thursday morning canceled as well. Unity also noted that it has taken "immediate and proactive measures to ensure the safety of our employees" and is cooperating with law enforcement. (More video games stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.