As you may recall, last week Unity announced some pretty major price changes. The response has not exactly been great, especially among those that purchased their PRO license outright. Yesterday, Unity co-founder and CTO Joachim Ante released this blog post explaining the move to a subscription model:
When we started Unity, we would ship Unity every once in a while on just 2 platforms. Initially just Aras and I, gradually adding a couple engineers every few months. We’d decide on a couple major features and focus working on that for a year and a bit, go through beta and then ship it.
Today Unity lets you target 28 platforms. No one targets all platforms at the same time, but the ability to choose to easily switch your game to any platform gives Unity developers incredible advantages.
Each platform is supported by a team of dedicated engineers. We have teams focused on different areas of the engine, working on improving each major area all the time.
We ship a patch release every week. Supported by the awesome Sustained Engineering team.
We ship point releases with major new features and improvements multiple times per year.
All of this is necessary because the platforms we support rapidly change. In today’s world, we can’t leave customers behind for a year because we are in the process of releasing a major version. We think it would be very bad for Unity developers if we held features for a full number release, rather than launch these features along the way, when they are ready.
With this in mind, we want to be clear. There will be no major Unity 6 release.
In the dev team we wanted to stop doing major releases for a long time. With the major releases model we had done up until Unity 5, it has always forced us to bundle up a bunch of features and release them in one big splash. Usually it results in that good & complete features would be artificially held back for a long time while other features are still maturing, and eventually releasing some of these features before they are ready. All in the name of creating one big splashy release that customers feel is worth upgrading to. It’s what we did because we had to in a model where we worked toward an unnatural new major release every few years. This is not some evil marketing team pushing for it, it is the inherent nature of that business model. It was always a painful process for us and you and it really serves no one.
With our switch to subscription we can make Unity incrementally better, every week. When a feature is complete, we will ship it. If it is not ready we will wait for the next point release.
Our switch to subscription is absolutely necessary in order for us to provide a robust and stable platform.
Pay to own!
Along with the new subscription model, we are introducing “pay to own”. After having paid for 24 months of subscription, you can stop paying and keep on using the version you have at that point. Of course, you would also stop getting new features, services or fixes; choice is yours.
If you are upgrading from a previously bought perpetual license of Unity and you are switching to subscription after March 2017, then you get “pay to own” right away with your subscription license.
Pay to own applies to everyone; there’s no special “license option” you have to get. Simple!
Thanks for listening, I hope this gives some much needed background on our switch to subscription.
In some ways this move makes sense. Both Unreal and Unity have moved to a more rapid release schedule, making make 1.0 releases somewhat of a thing of the past. The problem for Unity is, they are selling software still using a version by version model, Unreal obviously don’t have this issue as their revenue is royalty based. A quick look through the comments in response to this post show that the community isn’t exactly mollified at this point! At first glance the Pay To Own license sounds like a good deal, but all that is really saying is, after 2 years of paying licensing fees you get a perpetual license for that version (and not further updates without a subscription). Considering you could previously buy Unity outright for $1,500, “owning” it after 24 payments of $125 ($3,000) is only a deal if you are using all three versions, otherwise it’s a doubling of the price.
A point that might be somewhat confusing is There will be no major Unity 6 release. This is some truly horrible wording and is incredibly misleading. Yes there will be a Unity 6, it just has absolutely no impact on licensing. All subscriptions from Unity are now time limited, not release oriented.