Mobile developers are boycotting Unity ads in protest of the company’s recent pricing changes. Unity, a company known for its cross-platform game engine, announced a new payment structure that ties runtime fee with game installations. This decision has sparked confusion and anger among studios and publishers, who believe the fees will place a significant financial burden on their companies.
As response, several mobile game developers and publishers with millions of installs have turned off ad monetization services provided by Unity, such as ironSource and Unity Ads, and have pledged to reinstate these services only when Unity reviews and reverses its new policy.
Over 18 studios, including Azur Games, CrazyLabs, and Voodoo among others, have signed an open letter expressing their opposition to Unity’s pricing change. They argue that the new runtime fee represents an unacceptable shift in their partnership with Unity and should be canceled immediately. The letter highlights concerns about how installs are tracked, the potential violation of privacy conditions, and the ability of a company to unilaterally change its terms of service. In addition, the developers are mulling a potential class-action lawsuit against the company.
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Unity’s first response to the protest and removal of ad monetization is to pause access of a company’s user acquisition features that help them market mobile games. This move by Unity reportedly threatens the potential growth of impacted gaming businesses.
Mobile game developers heavily rely on advertising to reach gamers, and Unity’s new rules could potentially force studios and publishers to switch to another game engine. Or worse, focus more on game monetization instead of improving gameplay.
While the boycott may have financial implications for Unity, the loss of user acquisition tools are also a big problem for the protesting studios. However, their primary focus is on opposing Unity’s pricing change.
With the pressure from developers and gamers, Unity finally gave in and issued an apology on Twitter (now called X). However, it looks like the company is still downplaying the issue as it calls it a ‘confusion.’ Unity said that they are currently in talks with their team members, community, and partners to make changes to the new policy.
Even though it’s not profitable, Unity managed to bring in over $1 billion in revenue in 2022. Unity’s new runtime-based pricing model is an attempt to improve and bring additional profit.