The recent announcement by Unity, stating that they will start charging install fees for games created with their tools, has sparked a major controversy. Now, the European Game Developers Federation (EGDF) has joined the discussion, using this news as an opportunity to call for more regulatory scrutiny.
In a statement released by the EGDF, they criticize Unity’s alleged monopolistic practices and express concerns about the impact on game development students who rely on Unity’s engine.
“Larger game developer studios have the luxury of developing their own game engines. As a result, the new fee structure introduced by Unity will have a significant impact on small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) game developers, causing market uncertainty and increased risks for service providers. It will be much more challenging for these studios to create reliable business plans, make informed decisions about game engines, and run profitable businesses. Many of these studios already struggled to secure funding before Unity’s announcement, and this situation has only worsened.”
“Moreover, Unity’s decision will have a broader impact on the entire game industry ecosystem. Many professional game education institutions have built their curriculum around the Unity game engine. If a mass exodus from Unity’s engine occurs due to the new pricing model, it will necessitate rapid changes in professional game education and put many aspiring industry professionals who have focused on mastering Unity’s tools in a difficult position.”
In addition to their predictions, the EGDF is urging the European Union (EU) to introduce further legislation.
“The EU should implement specific regulations for non-negotiable business-to-business (B2B) contract terms. These regulations should allow sufficient time, at least six months, for markets to respond to significant changes in non-negotiable terms and conditions communicated by service providers. Additionally, the Commission should bring much-needed market certainty by banning retroactive pricing and contract changes.”
The fact that there is no major competitor for Unity Engine that does not require constant back-end server connection is a market failure in itself.
“The Commission should increase its research and development (R&D) support for the European game industry. Currently, the absence of a major competitor to Unity Engine that does not rely on constant back-end server connection is a market failure in itself.”
“The Commission should also enhance its support for privacy-friendly open-source alternatives for game engines, such as Godot or Defold, that do not require constant back-end server connection. These alternatives eliminate the need for scalable revenue-based fees or install fees.”
The involvement of the European Game Developers Federation in the Unity news indicates the significant impact of this announcement. The lack of consultation and the suddenness of the changes, combined with the backlash from developers, including an open letter from multiple high-profile studios opposing Unity, suggest that the rapid and dramatic developments in this story are unlikely to come to a halt anytime soon.