Mobile game developers are now boycotting Unity by switching off its ad products, mobilegamer.biz can reveal.

The group is trying to force Unity into cancelling its proposed Runtime Fee policy.

At the time of publication, 16 different studios have pulled their Unity and IronSource ads: Azur Games, Voodoo, Homa, Century Games, SayGames, CrazyLabs, Original Games, Ducky, Burny Games, Inspired Square, Geisha Tokyo, tatsumaki games, KAYAC, New Story, Playgendary and Supercent.

Collective letter from game development companies: Turning off all IronSource and Unity Ads monetization until new conditions are reviewed

We are the collective voice of the game development industry—developers, game designers, artists, and business minds. Passionate about our craft, we’ve invested years in shaping an industry that touches the lives of millions worldwide. As stakeholders, we cannot remain silent when a decision threatens to destabilize this ecosystem.

Unity has been an instrumental force in this industry. In many ways, it has inspired us to create new immersive worlds and empowered a plethora of dynamic and independent developers to bring their visions to life. We’ve played our part in this journey, moving the industry forward and creating specialists that use Unity as the primary game engine for their projects.

We’ve hosted Unity-centered events, shared our knowledge, and crafted educational content that’s inspired an international community. Thanks to this symbiosis, Unity has evolved into a cornerstone of game development and is now established as an indispensable asset in game creation.

That’s why the September 12 announcement hits us hard. Effective January 1, 2024, Unity plans to introduce installation-dependent fees, a decision that jeopardizes small and large game developers alike, made without any industry consultation. To claim, as Unity has, that this new ‘Runtime Fee’ will impact only 10% of the industry is not just misleading, it’s patently false.

We strongly oppose this move, which disregards the unique challenges and complexities of our industry.

While we’ve always viewed our work as a collaborative effort, this decision blindsided us. With one stroke of the pen, you’ve put hundreds of studios at risk, all without consultation or dialogue.

To put it in relatable terms—what if automakers suddenly decided to charge us for every mile driven on the car that you bought a year ago? The impact on consumers and the industry at large would be seismic.

This comes at a time when the industry is already grappling with tightening profit margins, heightened competition, and escalating costs in both development and marketing. This isn’t just about developers. This impacts artists, designers, marketers, and producers. It’s a cascade that could lead to the shuttering of companies that have given their all to this industry.

Unity, we’ve stood by and celebrated your every innovation. Why, then, were we left out of the conversation on a decision so monumental?

As a course of immediate action, our collective of game development companies is forced to turn off all IronSource and Unity Ads monetization across our projects until these changes are reconsidered.

We urge others who share this stance to do the same. The rules have changed, and the stakes are simply too high. The Runtime Fee is an unacceptable shift in our partnership with Unity that needs to be immediately canceled.

We entered this industry for the love of game development, but what makes it truly special is the community—a community built on openness, shared expertise, and collective progress.

If you share our sentiment, we call on you to join us. Turn off all IronSource and Unity Ads monetization until a fair and equitable resolution is found.

You can also back the movement by signing our open letter. Check out the link to add your voice to the cause.

Sincerely,

Azur Games, Voodoo, Homa, Century Games, SayGames, CrazyLabs, Original Games, Ducky, Burny Games, Inspired Square, Geisha Tokyo, tatsumaki games, KAYAC, New Story, Playgendary, Supercent

…and all who sign this letter, engage in other forms of protest, or simply stand in solidarity with the gaming industry

    • vlad@lemmy.sdf.org
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      10 months ago

      I bet it’ll last less time then the reddit standoff. But I do wish them all of the luck. Fuck Unity and their bullshit fees.

      • chameleon@kbin.social
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        10 months ago

        I think this one will work. Most of these games are already “multihomed” on different ad networks and display the one that is most profitable to them at any given time, or a semi-random mixture. The differences in profitably aren’t that huge, and it will get even worse if advertisers run away from Unity too. Unity is making an absolute killing from their ads division, and this is now being threatened.

        And who are the advertisers? Other game devs. The whole mobile game advertising scene is one gigantic ouroboros with the ad platforms cutting off a huge portion in the middle. If you leave, you’re going to both stop showing ads and stop your advertising there.

        • jarfil@lemmy.world
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          10 months ago

          ouroboros

          Nice word for “circlejerk”…

          cutting off a huge portion in the middle

          …but this imagery is disturbing.

          • chameleon@kbin.social
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            10 months ago

            Yeah on second thought it’s maybe a bit more vivid than intended, but it fits what I think is going to happen. Below the top 1-2% of mobile games, it’s one big pile of endlessly recycled advertising money. Spend a million in ads, make $800k in ads and $500k in microtransactions, and the $300k is where you have to pay everything else from. Unity is about to bite into that hard and doesn’t care if it leaves behind some wounds.

        • driving_crooner@lemmy.eco.br
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          10 months ago

          I haven’t play games with ads in years, but O remember getting a lot of Christian ads, like Bible verses and such. It was even worse that regular buy shit ads imo.

          • Lemminary@lemmy.world
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            10 months ago

            I wanted to add a scathing remark about “shoving your in our pious face!” but it practically writes itself.

      • Epicurus0319
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        10 months ago

        But hey, at least they didn’t give it a set end date; from the very start of their “strike” the reddit mods straight up admitted that they couldn’t stay away from their unpaid powertrips and leave their octogenerian mothers’ basements for more than 2 days, and instantly folded at a single empty threat to take away the only thing in their lives that’ll ever give them purpose and make them feel like they wield power over others.

        • Chariotwheel@kbin.socialOP
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          10 months ago

          Don’t shove us all under the same rug. I packed my bags, shred my old comments and posts and went into the Fediverse.

          • zecg@lemmy.world
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            10 months ago

            Don’t shove us all under the same rug. I packed my bags, shred my old comments and posts and went into the Fediverse.

            There’s dozens of us. DOZENS!

          • Epicurus0319
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            10 months ago

            You were the exception not the rule unfortunately

            • DaGeek247@kbin.social
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              10 months ago

              Nope. Content creators, the ones doing all the talking on reddit, definitely left. Check out this graph of posts per day on r/askreddit

              • Epicurus0319
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                10 months ago

                Sorry for the triple post, lag got me (I accidentally just posted the same comment 3 times within mere milliseconds of each other)

        • drcobaltjedi@programming.dev
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          Hey some of us said we’d go on indefinately and after being told to open decided to maliously comply only. /r/baduibattles a sub I started is now only letting posts be of New reddit or the Reddit app. User involvement has plummeted, there are fewer posts, each with votes and comments. Automod also posts telling people to join us at !bad_ui_battles@programming.dev

        • sibachian@lemmy.ml
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          10 months ago

          eh? do people still use reddit even? last i heard they have employees actively create threads now to try and keep engagement going.

          • Rentlar@lemmy.ca
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            10 months ago

            Reddit employees searching TikTok for memes to repost to Reddit be like:

            are ya winning dad? meme

          • Epicurus0319
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            10 months ago

            Now it’s down to just the low-effort memes, ”religious people bad”/“reddit good everywhere else bad” circlejerks, unhelpful advice, and edgy 14 year olds who just discovered politics, thinking homophobia and fragile masculinity are “based” and that they’re communist because they hate their home country because something something pronouns, know 2 russian words (both obscenities), have been playing too many WW2-themed games and say comrade every 4 seconds all despite coming from money themselves and supporting a war being waged by a far-right regime.

          • psud@aussie.zone
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            10 months ago

            There are some special interest subreddits still running almost like before. Subs with a population of a few thousand, with the active members using names that pertain to the sub

            Those haven’t moved, at least the non-techie ones haven’t

        • ShranTheWaterPoloFan@startrek.website
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          10 months ago

          I’m confused about what you want.

          Mods literally got replaced by reddit because they refused to capitulate.

          I’m not a fan of reddits choices, but if I was deeply involved in a community I’d consider staying to be part of that community still.

        • vlad@lemmy.sdf.org
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          10 months ago

          That’s true. Although, having that limit probably got more of them to participate. So while the impact was short, it was more noticeable.

        • Epicurus0319
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          10 months ago

          And they know precisely what’s at stake, and that in any case continuing to use an engine now run by dangerous morons intent on destroying it for a quick buck will not be an option, as we all know Unity will strive for its stated goal of screwing them over like this, be it suddenly and shamelessly like they’re hoping to do or by slowly boiling the frog over many years. And then those devs would lose everything.

          The devs can’t afford to fold. The other forum’s powermods folded because they not only could’ve afforded to, but also because upon realizing just how expendable they were, they didn’t want to risk losing the source of their god complex. That, and given that site’s users’ history of bringing feathers to knife fights their failure to enact the change they wanted was hardly surprising.

  • hoshikarakitaridia@sh.itjust.works
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    10 months ago

    I hope unity’s shareholders are happy with what they hoped for. This is the result of driving a company too far. Let’s makes this a guideline to follow for other companies not to make such shady decisions.

    It becomes more appearent with every new instance of protest that there’s something equally valuable for a company as money, and that is community trust. Because losing it can stop growth. I love the new layer of accountability we obtained with the internet.

    • expected_crayon@lemmy.world
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      10 months ago

      The problem is a lot of executive compensation packages are based on short term growth rather than long term growth. So CEOs are incentivized to maximize profits today at the expense of tomorrow so they can get that sweet sweet bonus money. It’s a fundamental flaw with our entire economic system that I don’t think is likely to fix itself.

      • Honytawk@lemmy.zip
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        10 months ago

        I think they believe that they can use the increased profit of today to fix the losses of tomorrow.

        But trust in general comes by foot and goed on horseback, and that is especially true with communities.

    • honey_im_meat_grinding@lemmy.blahaj.zone
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      10 months ago

      I hope unity’s shareholders are happy with what they hoped for. This is the result of driving a company too far. Let’s makes this a guideline to follow for other companies not to make such shady decisions.

      I don’t think that’s going to happen as long as the ownership structures surrounding shareholders remains the same. It’s not the average person who invests in Unity that’s doing this, it’s the wealthy equity firms with significant holdings that are pushing for this unsustainable behaviour. After the 2008 crash, the EU, the US, Canada, and the UK all did studies on the economic stability of coops (1-person-1-vote democratically owned businesses) versus traditional companies and found that the coops were considerably more sustainable:

      The cooperative banking sector had 20% market share of the European banking sector, but accounted for only 7 percent of all the write-downs and losses between the third quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2011.

      (UK) A further study found that after ten years 44 percent of cooperatives were still in operation, compared with only 20 percent for all enterprises.

      (US) Credit unions, a type of cooperative bank, had five times lower failure rate than other banks during the financial crisis and more than doubled lending to small businesses between 2008 and 2016, from $30 billion to $60 billion, while lending to small businesses overall during the same period declined by around $100 billion.

      A 2010 report by the Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export in Québec found the five-year survival rate and ten-year survival rate of cooperatives in Québec to be 62% and 44% respectively compared to 35% and 20% for conventional firms.

      There’s also a study using 100 years of data on French wine coops vs non-coop wine companies showing similar results: not only do coops survive longer, the survival rate gap widens over time as more and more non-coops collapse [Cooperatives versus Corporations: Survival in the French Wine Industry. Journal of Wine Economics, 13(3), 328-354. doi:10.1017/jwe.2017.1]

    • half_built_pyramids@lemmy.world
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      10 months ago

      Shareholders aren’t humans with ethics or a conscience. Remember when bby koty was in the news for sex harass? Bliz stuck went down. War Bufet bought bliz stucks and then when the new cycle moved on bliz stuck rebound and war buf MADE FUCKING MONEY OFF OF A SEX HARASS.

      And then there was a news cycle about how smet war buf is.

      There is no accountability. There is only money.

    • echo64@lemmy.world
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      10 months ago

      ‘cutting ties and moving on’ would require a total rebuild of their games in a new engine. it doesn’t really work that way.

      • deranger@sh.itjust.works
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        10 months ago

        They’re going to try this bullshit again, or in another manner. Maybe having everything centralized onto a proprietary single point of failure isn’t a great idea.

        Cutting ties and moving on is the right answer.

        • echo64@lemmy.world
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          10 months ago

          No one wants this situation, but the reality is that you can not switch from one engine to another engine without rebuilding the product. This is true for every game development company on the planet, this is how the industry is.

          we can sit and laugh at that and call them stupid for building an entire multi-billion dollar industry on this, or we can understand the realities of the whole thing.

          • deranger@sh.itjust.works
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            10 months ago

            I’m not calling anyone stupid or laughing.

            The reality is they’ve shown their hand.

            Why anyone would continue to do business with them is insane to me. You’re setting yourself up for future failure.

            Sure, it’s not easy to switch engines; is this going to change in the future? I doubt it, so this is only delaying the inevitable.

            • echo64@lemmy.world
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              Why anyone would continue to do business with them is insane to me.

              1. you have a mature stack built entirely on the engine, that stacks the only thing that powers your companies revenue, if that stack did not exist then you would fold quickly
              2. you probably have an entire company of experts in this engine, an deep knowledge-base that you are throwing away if you move away, your ability to have speed and agility is likely crippled until you get up to speed anywhere else. good luck affording to pay for that monumental shift in your company. 3, almost all the talent in the industry (at your level) is on unity engine, good luck hiring for $obscure_engine

              basically, it’s incredibly naive to just say “just switch, obviously they are bad, they will be bad in the future too so switch”. it shows deep ignorance. it’s worth trying to understand the situation before saying any of this stuff.

              • deranger@sh.itjust.works
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                10 months ago

                I’m saying that whole production concept is flawed. You’re at the mercy of a single company. You don’t need to explain it further than that. You’ve centralized and specialized too much. It’s naive to assume they aren’t going to squeeze developers again.

                Good luck to those who stay on Unity, you’re going to have a similar issue later down the line until they wear you out.

                • Elderos@lemmings.world
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                  10 months ago

                  That is just reductionism. The post above yours went above and beyond to explain why they can’t just change the engine. For a lot of business it would mean bankruptcy now. So you understand that given the choice between bankruptcy now or maybe being squeezed again by Unity later, the latter is still more an attractive option, right?