Of the many developer concerns surrounding Unity's new install fee, the company's rules for charity exemptions remain a particularly sore spot. With one developer already claiming its charity efforts have been dismissed by Unity for supporting what the company has deemed "political groups," those concerns have only worsened.
In a Steam blog post spotted by GamesIndustry, indie developer LizardFactory claims that Unity has ruled against the charity funds from its "sex-positive non-pornographic puzzle game" Orgynizer due to the charities supported.
As the Orgynizer Steam page reads: "All proceeds from this game go directly to Planned Parenthood, alternative donation targets are available in the settings menu." The alternative charity in question here is C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, which specializes in broad pediatric care and "safe, effective and progressive care for women and children," according to the hospital's website.
LizardFactory's statement on Unity's stance is white-hot. "Out of the blue, the engine that we built the game with decided that they want to charge us 0.12-0.20 USD for each game install," the dev writes. "If this goes through, it would cost us around 30% of all the funds we have gathered and already sent to charity.
"We are based in the EU, and our legal aid have assured us that this is a very unlawful decision, especially due to its retroactive elements," LizardFactory adds. "It was stated that charity games would be spared, so we asked Unity to get confirmation that we would not be affected, but they believe our targets (Planned Parenthood and C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital) would NOT count as 'valid charities' and more 'political groups.' I speak on behalf of all of us when I say: GET F*CKED!" (Caps LizardFactory's.)
"We did this to raise money for a good cause, not to line the coffers of greedy scumbags," the post concludes. "This is a mafia-style shakedown, nothing more, nothing less. You wanna f*ck us, but we are not bending over."
LizardFactory's claims sound remarkably similar to the nightmare hypotheticals outlined by other game devs after Unity's fee was first announced. GamesRadar+ spoke to 10 game developers about the implications of the fee – all of whom agreed it is a serious threat to everyone, including gamers – and several were worried that the fee's charity exemptions would position Unity as the moral judge of such efforts.
"Sure, charity bundles have been labeled exempt, but how will this be tracked?" asked general manager Christian Lövstedt of The Battle of Polytopia dev Midjiwan AB
In a separate response, Vlambeer co-founder and industry consultant Rami Ismail speculated: "What is an approved charity? Does Unity now control what charities we can be in? If Unity does not agree with Freedom for Palestine, does that mean my game cannot be in that bundle now? Is Unity really going to be the political arbiter of what charities are or are not approved? Because they are now, that's what they're saying."
Like many of the devs we spoke to, LizardFactory says it is looking to change engines after Unity's abrupt policy update. "Godot is looking good, but we will have to recode our entire game, because we refuse to give you a dime," its post reads.
Addressing outcry from developers, Unity has promised changes to the runtime fee, but has not yet detailed changes to its policy or, as many devs have requested, totally scrapped it.