Unity Technologies went public back in 2020 with a nearly $14B valuation and currently with a current valuation of over $30B dollars. Being a publicly traded company puts pressure on them to increase revenue and we are seeing one such way they may be trying to maximize profits. According to Gamasutra, in June Unity updated their license to require a Unity Pro license for developers working on “closed platforms” such as Switch, PS5 and Xbox if they don’t already have a preferred platform license key. This change will mostly impact Xbox developers and will basically require developers to pay $1800 per seat to publish to the Xbox, regardless to the earnings of the company in question.
Details from the article:
The spokesperson also stressed that the change is for new developers working on new platform-approved projects that update to the 2021.2 tech stream. If your game is currently in development on an older version of Unity, you don’t need Unity Pro at this time.
A handful of developers reached out to Gamasutra with concerns about this change because while Sony and Nintendo both make Preferred Platform License Keys available to developers, Microsoft does not. Previously if a developer had XDX (the Xbox Development SDK) on their computer, it apparently unlocked all Unity features for use on Xbox.
June’s policy change renders that moot, and means a new developer working on an approved game for Xbox will need to pay for a Unity Pro license, which currently costs $1,800 per year per seat.
Unity previously required developers to use Unity Pro (or Enterprise) if their funding or revenue was greater than $200K in the last 12 months. For smaller developers with less than $200K in revenue or funding, Unity Plus and Unity Personal were options for development.
A spokesperson for Microsoft told Gamasutra that it the company is aware of the changes, but didn’t indicate if the company would be creating its own Preferred Platform License Key program for developers. “We will continue to work with our development partners and engine providers, including Unity, to determine how to best support creators on Xbox,” the spokesperson said.
They added that Microsoft is “deeply committed to independent developers and with our prioritization of the community accelerating, ensuring they have a clear path to success on Xbox and Windows.”
Unity’s changes here aren’t exactly sweeping, since many developers working on the platform already pay for Unity Pro or have access to Preferred Platform License Keys. Some developers Gamasutra spoke with didn’t even notice the change took place, or expressed indifference about how it would affect their future projects.
While this change will impact a relatively small number of existing developers, it does make the competition slightly more appealing and cold represent a fairly sizable cost for unestablished studios. On the other hand, the number of companies capable of publishing a game to a console, but unable to acquire Unity Pro licenses is bound to be fairly small. You can learn more about the change in the video below.