One of the companies responsible for many of the video games available today is changing their fee structure. How will it affect your favorite games? Also, the latest game announcements from PlayStation, Nintendo and CD Projekt Red.
A lack of Unity
Unless you are a developer, you likely don’t think much about the software used to create video games. To keep it simple, there are two main programs used by developers, Unreal and Unity. Unity is used by a lot of independent developers due to its ease, ability and cost. That all changed this week, when Unity changed their pricing structure, and chaos ensued.
On Tuesday, Unity posted they planned to charge developers a Runtime Fee. What this means is Unity would start collecting royalties from games that are developed using their software. From their post:
We are introducing a Unity Runtime Fee that is based upon each time a qualifying game is downloaded by an end user. We chose this because each time a game is downloaded, the Unity Runtime is also installed. Also we believe that an initial install-based fee allows creators to keep the ongoing financial gains from player engagement, unlike a revenue share.
Unity had previously used the fact they do not charge royalties as a selling point. In 2015, CEO John Riccitiello said in an interview, "But if you're not, if you're just getting started or just choose for artistic reasons to give your games away for free, or if you're a hobbyist screwing around or a student, this is free. You get the full power of Unity 5 for free. There's no royalties, no f**king around.” Unity licenses cost between $400 and $2,000 per seat for developers.
What aggravated most developers is this change in pricing would also be applied to games that were developed before the new pricing model goes into effect on January 1. Downloads after Jan. 1 of any game created using Unity would count towards "lifetime installs" in the new pricing structure. Developers claim the company should not be able to retroactively change their terms for games that were already released.
It is also unclear what counts as an install. According to Unity officials, if an individual uninstalls and re-installs a game, or they have it on two different computers, each count as an install. What about subscription services like Xbox Game Pass? Unity said charity bundles would be exempt, but they told developers that Planned Parenthood and children’s hospitals are "not valid charities."
Unity recently walked back some of their comments about these changes, but it’s still unclear to what degree. Their most recent post from social media:
Still, developers are not happy. Here are some of the reactions from around the web.
- Game Developers Say Changes To Unity, A Key Software Tool, Could Bankrupt Them
- Unity Bosses Sold Stock Ahead Of Scummy Dev Fees Announcement
- Unity closes offices due to ‘credible death threat’
- Game devs say Unity's new install fee is a threat to everyone, including gamers, and there's no going back: "I don't want to sell my house because my game was too popular"
A big week for game announcements
Sony, Nintendo and CD Projekt Red each had press conferences to provide new trailers and updates on games in development. Here are the biggest announcements and trailers from each.
Sony’s State of Play
One of the biggest announcements from Sony’s State of Play was the release date for Final Fantasy VII: Rebirth, which comes out Feb. 29. Rebirth is the second of three games planned for the remake of the classic PlayStation 1 title. The first game in the remade series sold over 7 million copies, and developers say Rebirth will have over 100 hours of content. However, your levels and abilities from the first remake won’t carry over to the new game. The game will be a PlayStation exclusive for at least 3 months.
Sony also provided a new look at Spider-Man 2, which releases Oct. 20. The latest game nearly doubles the size of New York that users can play.
Finally, Sony announced a trailer for Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora, a new game based on the popular film franchise.
Nintendo’s press conference mostly focused on remakes, with plenty of classic Nintendo titles coming to the Switch. Super Mario RPG, Paper Mario, Luigi’s Mansion 2, Warioware and Tomb Raider were just some of the games announced.
Princess Peach Showtime is one of Nintendo’s new titles, featuring the famous princess from the Mario games. A trip to the theater goes awry, but Peach is there to save the day. Princess Peach Showtime releases March 22, 2024.
Mario vs. Donkey Kong is a platformer where Mario needs to solve puzzles to defeat his old nemesis. The game comes to Switch on Feb. 16, 2024.
Finally, Konami is bringing back one of their classic franchises with Contra: Operation Galuga. The game is scheduled for an early 2024 release.
You can watch the entire Nintendo Direct here.
CD Projekt Red
CD Projekt Red focused on their upcoming expansion to Cyberpunk 2077, Phantom Liberty. The $30 expansion along with the free 2.0 update looks to completely overhaul the game and gameplay. CD Projekt Red showed a new cinematic trailer for the expansion.
They also posted a couple behind-the-scenes videos with the star of the expansion, Idris Elba.
The free 2.0 patch for Cyberpunk 2077 will be available Sept. 21, with Phantom Liberty coming out a few days later on Sept. 26. CD Projekt Red urges players on PC to check their cooling systems ahead of Phantom Liberty’s launch.
Side quests (more stories worth reading)
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🦆 Dukk Börg, a new fantasy RPG that is a mix of Duck Tales and Dark Souls is currently on Kickstarter.
🔫 Destiny 2 has a bug that allows players to merge legendary and exotic weapons into overpowered guns.
👨🏽💻 Valve announced it will discontinue the Dota Pro Circuit after The International.
📉 Embracer Group is considering selling off Gearbox Software, makers of the popular Borderlands franchise.
🏀 The Athletic ($) has an interview with the voice of NBA Jam.
💸 Square Enix lost almost $2 billion in value since the launch of Final Fantasy 16.
😢 A developer was arrested at Roblox Developer Conference and an awards show canceled due to ‘potential security concerns.’
🧩 Puzzle games on mobile devices have earned over $42 billion over the last decade.
👍🏽 Nexus, a site for mods to popular video games bans a Starfield mod that removes pronouns in the game, saying 'We stand for diversity and inclusion.'
👼🏻 We recently kicked off our 2023 Extra Life campaign to raise money for Children’s Hospital Of Wisconsin. Support a good cause if you are willing and able.
New Releases this week:
9/19: Lies of P (PlayStation, Xbox and PC)
9/19: Mortal Kombat 1 (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/20: Party Animals (Xbox and PC)
9/21: Days of Doom (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/21: Payday 3 (PlayStation, Xbox and PC)
9/22: Avatar: The Last Airbender: Quest for Balance (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/22: Bud Spencer & Terence Hill - Slaps And Beans 2 (PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC)
9/22: Pikmin 1+2 (Switch)
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