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Ankama problem

How Unity Could Ruined a French Company

This article aims to shed light on the potential consequences of Unity’s recent pricing changes, using a concrete example.
Unity is a prominent player in the video game industry, boasting a game engine used by millions worldwide.

The world of video game creators was shaken on September 12th when Unity unveiled rather perplexing pricing changes. We revisit this subject because, in their pursuit of financial gain, Unity could have left numerous companies in a precarious position.

Today, we will analyze the potentially disastrous implications of these pricing changes on Ankama, the company behind the popular MMORPG, Dofus.

1 - Pricing Changes Implemented by Unity

To briefly summarize the events (the complete details can be found in this article: Link to the full article), on September 12, 2023, Unity announced changes in its pricing. For several years, Unity was free, only becoming paid when a game exceeded $100,000 in revenue. 

In such cases, the development teams had to obtain a license (Unity Plus or Unity Pro if revenues exceeded $200,000) to continue using the game engine.

However, this time, Unity announced that game creators would have to pay for each game download once they reached $200,000 in revenue and 200,000 installations.
This fee can vary from $0.01 to $0.2 per installation, depending on the Unity license.

Unity pricing

This announcement was met with unanimous disapproval from the creator community, with many considering boycotting Unity and switching to a different game engine. They found this system both onerous and objectionable. They would have preferred an increase in licensing costs or a percentage tax on the revenue generated. 

Cult of the lamb tweet

Cult of the Lamb Tweet about Unity Runtime Fee

Furthermore, Unity being the sole judge of the number of game downloads raised concerns. Unity asserted that its teams could reliably track the number of installations, preventing errors and fraud. Still, trust had already been eroded.

Faced with the negative backlash, Unity adjusted its pricing on September 22, 2023.
Now, only games that generated over one million dollars in revenue and one million downloads would be subject to one of this two options:

  1. A 2.5% royalty on revenues, a model resembling that of UNREAL Engine, one of Unity’s competitors.
  2. Payment of the Runtime Fee.

The least expensive option will be automatically selected.

For more information, you can consult Unity’s article on their pricing updates: Link to Unity’s article.

2 - Who Is Ankama?

Ankama is a French holding company with investments in various enterprises specializing in digital and artistic creation. 
Primarily recognized in France and South America, Ankama is famous for its MMORPGs, Dofus and Wakfu
I chose to highlight this company because my adolescence was shaped by their games.

Film DofusDofus movie presentation

3 - The Consequences

In their quest to further enhance their games, Ankama decided to utilize Unity extensively for many of their new projects, including Waven, Dofus Unity, and Krosmaga. 

These games are freely accessible (except for Dofus, which becomes paid as one progresses), which presents a challenge with Unity’s pricing. For each new download or player, Unity would demand payment, even if the player didn’t generate any revenue for Ankama.

Furthermore, anyone harboring grievances or animosity toward the company could potentially deploy an army of bots to download the game, resulting in substantial financial losses for the company. With the appearance of “Review bombings”, as a form of protest, a kind of “download bombing” could have happened and became a potent tool for threatening the company.

Unfortunately, precise statistics on Ankama’s games are not made public, making it difficult to accurately assess the additional costs these pricing changes could have incurred.

4 - Conclusion

Fortunately, Unity adjusted its pricing, easing the concerns of many companies and creators. Thanks to these modifications, we will soon have the opportunity to explore Dofus Unity in 2024, along with a multitude of other games developed by a diverse range of creative talents.

As the horizon brightens for Unity and its users, this story emphasizes that vigilance and attentiveness to community needs remain essential for the success and sustainable growth of the video game industry.

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