Charge Niantic per game install

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Unity will update their licensing model so that it is based upon the number of games installed across all Unity supported platforms and not a fixed fee. Niantic will have until the end of January 2024 either to migrate Pokemon Go to another game engine, or to begin paying for every installation. It applies to all Unity-based game developers.

What is a Game Engine?

It is an environment for software development that optimizes and simplifies video game development across different programming languages. Also known as “game architecture”, “game framework” and “game engine”, it is a software development environment that simplifies and optimizes the creation of video games across various programming languages. Most developers choose between Epic Games’ Unreal Engine or Unity for their video game creation. Some developers use custom engines, such as Capcom’s RE Engine. Unity Engine has been used to power some of the biggest and most iconic games including Cuphead Hearthstone Hollow Knight and Pokemon GO.

Currently, Niantic publishes Pokemon GO via Unity and charges royalties on a monthly subscription basis. Unity will introduce a pay-per install model starting January 1, 2024.

What’s changed in Unity?

Unity announced recent changes in its royalty and monetization policies which could have a negative impact on many developers. Developers will be charged a royalty for every game install in addition to paying the commercial subscription fee. The developer will have to pay this royalty once they’ve generated $200,000-$1,000,000 over the past 12 months, and 200,000-1,000,000 installs in their lifetime. Fees can vary from $0.005 per install to $0.20 depending on developer subscription plans and number of installations.

  Unity Personal and Unity Plus Unity Pro Unity Enterprise
Unity Runtime Fee thresholds to be met
Revenue Threshold (USD) $200,000 (last 12 months) $1,000,000 (last 12 months) $1,000,000 (last 12 months)
Install Threshold 200,000 (life to date) 1,000,000 (life to date) 1,000,000 (life to date)
Installs over the Install Threshold Standard monthly rate
1-100,000 $0.20 per install $0.15 per install $0.125 per install
100,001-500,000 $0.075 per install $0.06 per install
500,001-1,000,000 $0.03 per install $0.02 per install
1,000,001+ $0.02 per install $0.01 per install
Installs over the Install Threshold Emerging market monthly rate
1+ $0.02 per install $0.01 per install $0.005 per install

It could be a major blow to game developers that offer free-to play games, or who release titles through subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Plus. Developers are not likely to welcome these changes, but it is still unclear how they will impact their decisions to release titles on subscription services such as Game Pass. Also, it will be interesting to find out if Microsoft or Sony agrees to pay a commission as part of the deal.

What is the future of Pokemon Go?

The gameplay shouldn’t change from the perspective of a normal player. This will have an impact on developers. Niantic could stick to Unity, and absorb the extra costs. It raises a few questions.

  • Will the cost of gameplay increase? The appeal of Pokémon GO is that it is possible to advance as a F2P player. Will we see a small increase in the cost of Special Research tickets or premium store items?
  • Is there a method to detect and prevent abusive behaviour such as deleting/reinstalling the app repeatedly? An extract from Unity’s page states the following:

What will you do if there is fraud or abuse that affects the number of installs?

Our Ads Technology already has fraud detection techniques that solve a similar issue. We will use this knowledge as a base. Users will be concerned about this, and we’ll provide a way for them to communicate their concerns with our Fraud Compliance team.

It is possible that Niantic will decide to switch game engines. This shouldn’t have any impact on the playability of the game. This will cost Niantic a lot, both financially and in terms of time.

We will update you as soon as we have more information. Trainers, what are your initial thoughts about these new developments?

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