Winkletter  •  20 Sept 2023   •    

I’ve been learning a bit about the recent backlash against the Unity game engine’s changes in its licensing fee. Basically, they want to start charging developers for every runtime install in a way that makes calculating costs almost impossible for the developer. What counts as an install? That will be determined by a proprietary system owned by Unity. And this applies to all installs retroactively, not just new installs after the change.

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further”
– Darth Vader

In some situations, developers could find themselves losing money if their games become popular. That extreme uncertainty has left developers reaching for new platforms, so Unity is starting to walk back some of its statements.

This does not fix the problem of uncertainty. If anything it highlights the capriciousness of the platform developers have built their businesses upon.

The open-source game engine Godot seems to be a popular choice, but it might be a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. If uncertainty is the main reason for leaving, then it makes sense a developer might like the certainty supplied by the MIT License. Even if the terms changed, the game engine can be forked while future options are considered.

Although Godot is more certain, developers are going to have to make sure they evaluate all the factors involved to make sure it’s a good fit.

Of course, the worst option would be to jump to another game engine that ends up pulling the same move a year down the road.

It’s like any rebound relationship. In one case the rebounder ends up with someone who is the exact opposite on one key point but overall isn’t a good fit. In the other case, the rebounder ends up in the exact same relationship because they made the same poor decisions.