This week, time folded in on itself for thousands of XR developers around the world. Unity, the popular game engine announced in the middle of Apple's keynote speech that they were altering (radically) the way they charge of the use of their platform.
Game engine leader Unity dropped a bombshell on developers this week with their announcement of a new 20 cent "verified install fee" on the Unity engine.
Unity cites rising operating costs and marketplace changes as rationale for the new fee aimed at "sustaining Unity's game engine development and services." But how will this impact game developers and the industry at large?
For many small and indie studios, the latest move strikes an added monetary blow at a time of already thin margins and rising user acquisition costs. A 20 cent install fee eaten upfront equates to 20 cents deducted from any potential revenue per user. For hypercasual games that earn cents per install, this shifts revenue splits even more in Unity's favor.
Larger studios have more of a buffer, but could still feel the install fee's sting during launch or in untapped markets. It also sets an uneasy precedent - will Unity enact further platform fees in the future?
The install charges could drive some developers toward alternative options long-term if Unity's revenue share expands. With the launch of the Apple Vision Pro (AVP) just round the corner, how will this affect business decisions for games and or other types of companies looking to launch offerings on that platform?
This is a difficult one, games companies that need cross platform operability maybe forced to either suck it up or switch to Unreal, however Unreal doesn't support AVP due to the fallout between Unreal's owners Epic games.
I did see this week that Unreal are working on something for AVP, so we will have to wait and see. But in that version of the universe, this will bring production for AVP to a standstill while dev's re-train, or worst still, companies will have to fire Unity devs and hire Unreal devs just to get back on track.
It's a simpler choice for non-games, or should I say products that are not suitable for Meta, health etc, because you can just use the native Vision OS code, and I believe this will be the case. Cross platform for these types of products will be seen as AVP, iPad, iPhone and Watch etc, and not across other closed ecosystems that have followed Meta's lead in content type.
So it's tough to see what the consequences are right now, and if Unity will backtrack on this decision, would you, could you, trust them again if they did reverse this decision?
I can only speak for myself, but I highly doubt it.