Reply To: the Unity debate

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Ken Williams

Unity is an amazing game engine. It’s easy to learn, has great tools for debugging, is powerful and fast, etc. I’ve been working with it for over two years and never felt that there was something I wanted to do that Unity couldn’t handle.

As to their licensing…

It is very confusing. I think Unity themselves haven’t completely figured it out. For 99.9% of game developers it is a non-issue. The license fees don’t kick in unless the game is a hit, and sadly most games will never sell enough copies to reach that level. In effect their licensing strategy is that the most successful games fund the engine development and the rest of the industry gets access to the engine for free. That said, most game developers are convinced their game will be a hit and they focus immediately on the potential fees, as they should.

There are aspects to Unity’s licensing strategy that seem poorly thought out. For instance, we offer a demo version of Colossal Cave that is free. It gives the first 10% of the game with the hopes that players will like what they see and purchase the full game. It feels wrong that if that demo were to go viral and millions of people download it, I’d be on the hook for 20 cents for every copy downloaded. I have no idea how Unity will account for all of this. It feels like every copy out there is a potential liability.

The bottom line: It is a great game engine. The pricing strategy has upset developers and I know of several who will abandon Unity as a result. Ultimately, Unity has to make money or the engine will cease to be developed. Perhaps their licensing strategy is fine and all questions have been answered? Or maybe it is flawed and they need to quickly back off? I have not seen enough details to have an opinion. I hope this sorts out and that Unity emerges stronger than ever, and that’s really all I know at this point.

-Ken W