Stuck on a sinking ship
So, if you didn't know, Great Gun Gauntlet has been in development using the engine Unity.
If you also didn't know, the engine has everyone abandoning ship recently due to some awful policy changes.
Awkward timing considering recently we've wanted to start making more blog posts and marketing our upcoming Early Access release, but I guess it is a good excuse as any to start blogging again.
So what's going on? Well, the story is still progressing as we make this post, but the summary of it is that Unity announced a new pricing plan that basically no one is a fan of. It is somewhat understandable that they need a better way of making money for development of the engine, but the entire way they are going about it may be one of the worst monetization plans I've seen in a while. Instead of just charging a royalty fee or improving the incentives to have developers pay their $2,000/y per employee Unity Pro service, the plan seems to be to try to charge developers "per-install". Like... huh??? Not per-purchase or a percentage of revenue, but for each install??? Obviously there are some minimum requirements before they charge you, but you can imagine how many questions arise from such a strange system. Including one major issue: How can we trust their metrics? Personally I'm not a big fan of trusting the black box metrics of what they think we owe them on such a vague value such as how many times a user has installed our game. Again, not just how many people buy it, but how many times it is installed. Etc, you can find plenty of summaries and complaints about this new system online.
How will this affect Great Gun Gauntlet's development? Honestly, for us it wont change much for THIS game. We're too far along to switch engines, and we haven't gained much momentum on social media yet so I doubt we'll surpass a $200k a year income let alone the $1,000,000 we'd have to hit before the Pro License doesn't protect us from the extra fees.
But at the same time I don't like the feeling of stress this policy brings, the idea that making certain kinds of games could be financially damaging. I also don't like the feeling that game engines with royalty fees make me feel like I never truly own the product I am selling.
I don't like the feeling that this game I've worked on for so long will now leave us dealing with a long-term blight of Unity contracts for the rest of its existence.
So I think we'll release this game, complete it to the extent we wanted to, and then move onto a new engine rather than sticking with Unity.
I'm pretty sure for our next project we will put the effort into learning and switching over to the Godot engine. I don't care if it hasn't matured entirely as an engine, I don't care if it has problems or is a bit weird, I don't even care if it turns out to not be good for the scale of certain games we might try making in the future. It seems nice enough after giving it a quick set of tests, it is open source, and I'd much rather support the development of community driven tools with the money we make rather than paying that money to big corporations that can't be trusted. We have plenty of smaller scale game ideas we'd like to try making, so if for now Godot is still only decent for that scale, I think we'll be fine.
But I unfortunately also think I'm going to miss just how good Unity's workflow was at times. Hopefully Godot will get there as time goes on.
But what if Unity takes back the horrible new policy? Doesn't matter. It might mean GGG isn't blighted by the change, but this choice comes from a long standing loss of trust we've been developing with Unity. The engine itself has been fine, I think the people working at the company actually building the tools have done a fine job over the years, but unfortunately bad leadership spoils it all. Nothing stops them from pulling future stunts like this, and they've already basically been slow-boiling the community with worse and worse policy over the years as-is. The writing was on the wall with the way the CEO talks about game developers, with the kinds of questionable industry purchases Unity has been making, and now with policy changes like this.
So why stick with a company that's been acting like this?
And that's where we're at right now, stuck with the sinking ship until Great Gun Gauntlet is done, and waiting on the day where we can switch to Godot for our next project.