2016-08-09 - Unity

Unity

Stalk The Comic:

August 9, 2016 - Newspost

First, some awesomeness:

Thank you to Molly Beans for reviewing Don't Hit Save on your YouTube channel over the weekend. I feel honored. Everyone needs to watch that video IMMEDIATELY.

And now, some expanded thoughts on what I addressed in today's comic. It's a little ranty, and it's also loooooong. Apologies in advance...

I love Unity. If you're unfamiliar, Unity is a game/app development engine that's some of the best software I've ever worked with. I use it on occasion for the day job, and even more often for personal projects. It's amazing.

I've been to a number of their Unite conferences, traveling roadshows, and talks given at Microsoft in NYC. I regularly attend Unity meetups, I've been able to work with their directly, and full disclosure, I have been given some free software as a result. I love their software and the community outreach is phenomenal.

With that being said, I have also given Unity a dump truck full of money, and on more than one occasion, I've had my newly purchased products become obsolete within a matter of weeks. They have never offered refunds, and opt instead to offer discounts on future purchases. This can be a pretty big hit for a small developer, as it can take several months to save for some of the bigger purchases. I only make a few major software purchases a year, so watching my money evaporate like that hurts. It hurts a lot.

Unfortunately, there has been a trend developing in the last year or two that is becoming harder and harder to dismiss: they are monetizing the hell out of their users.

Unity is a business, and businesses will try to make money. I am not under the mistaken impression that I'm friends with their staff, that their conferences are simply a fun place to gather likeminded developers, or that their asset store (a place on their site where game devs can sell code, models, etc.) exists out of the goodness of their heart. These are profit generators, and they always have been.

The difference I'm seeing is in the big announcements and their conferences. Rather than covering the latest changes in game development or their exciting innovations to the software, I'm hearing more and more about Unity Ads, the latest assets I should buy, and of course, their new subscription model.

I'm sure Unity is still inventing new tools, but it's unfortunate that the part of their business making the loudest noise right now is the one asking for more money.

It wasn't always like this. Two years ago, I attended the Unite conference in Seattle. It was, frankly, the best conference I've ever been to. The talks, the booths, the people there all had one subject on their mind: helping each other innovate. There were businesses there to make money, sure, but that wasn't at the forefront of the conversation.

Last year, at Boston's Unite conference, the conversation changed. It was less about ushering in the future of gaming and more about turning a profit. Rather than helping developers make a living with their games, the conference felt as though the various presenters and booths wanted to strike it rich by draining the developers' pockets. They were mining the miners, and it was obvious.

I still enjoyed the conference. I learned a great deal about a great piece of software. But the feeling of being monetized never faded away, and now it's back with a vengeance with Unity subscriptions.

I'm rarely a fan of subscribing to software. It's a nice option if you casually use the product, but it really sticks it to existing license holders. When done wrong, subscriptions remove the option of upgrading, force users to pay for minuscule features that they might otherwise skip, and lock customers into a higher pricing structure.

Time will tell if Unity's subscription is a bad deal. But considering the "downgrade" my existing license received, and the fact they're not shy about taking money for features I've already purchased, I'm a little concerned.

Again, I love the Unity game engine. They've made vast improvements over the years since I first started using it, and their community outreach is outstanding. Let's all hope they continue to grow and innovate their software with the same enthusiasm they have for their business model.

-Jeff