News
Episode
82

Unity's controversial changes to terms charge developers each time a game is installed

Plus Gearbox’s future is up in the air and we wrap Sony and Nintendo's showcases.

NEWS THIS WEEK

RELEASE RADAR

  • LIES OF P - 19 September 2023 - PC, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4|5
  • MORTAL KOMBAT 1 - 19 September 2023 - PC, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5, Switch
  • DAYS OF DOOM - 21 September 2023 - PC, Xbox Series S|X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4|5, Switch
  • PAYDAY 3 - 21 September 2023 - PC, Xbox Series S|X, PlayStation 5

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SIFTER is produced by Kyle Pauletto, Fiona Bartholomaeus, Daniel Ang, Adam Christou and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer and Gianni Di Giovanni is our Executive Producer. Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER.

TRANSCRIPT

FIONA: Hi I’m Fiona Bartholomaeus

KYLE: and I’m Kyle Pauletto

FIONA: Welcome to Walkthrough, SIFTER’s weekly recap on the biggest news in video games. 

KYLE: This week Unity manages to piss off all of your favourite indie developers and both Nintendo and Sony show off their upcoming games 

Here is the news for Sunday 17th of September. Let’s go!

— 

PROMO: Join the SIFTER community on Discord at sifter.com.au/discord

FIONA: Well the biggest news this week was easily the hand grenade that was thrown into the indie game development scene when game engine maker Unity decided it was going to start charging developers a new fee for using the platform.  

Here is the crux of Unity’s plan, on the 1st of January next year any developer that’s made over $200,000 USD over 12 months, and been installed 200,000 times would need to pay Unity 20 cents every time a game was installed. 

Not every time it was sold, you heard right, installed which means if you’re like many people who use say a Steam Deck and a main PC to play the same game the developer gets hit with two fees. 

And it was retrospective too, if you pull your game from sale on the 31st of December but had already hit the threshold you were still on the hook for the fee. 

Unity says it’s going to estimate how many copies are out there using an unknown method, but people are suspicious it’ll be something akin to spyware. 

KYLE: What is particularly dodgy is that Unity even went and secretly removed a clause from their terms or service that said you could use the terms you first developed your game under. 

So nope sorry this applies to everyone. 

The company seems to be digging in on this and developers like Landfall Games, Aggro Crab, Innersloth and Cult of the Lamb developer Australia’s own Massive Monster have written open letters critical of the change. 

Here is Julian Wilton from Massive Monster 

JULIAN WILTON: "Yeah, it was just it's just crazy. I just don't know. I think my first reaction was just kind of being confused, So they oh, I mean what? What do you mean, excuse me unity John, what are you up to? Like, what are you... yeah just confusion."

"I don't think we've officially announced anything. But look, it's probably about three million copies [of CULT OF THE LAMB] at this point, So, you know, you can probably run some quick math on that and you know It would be that we could owe a lot of money. I think they were saying it's after a certain period, but for us, and with a lot of developers, the business model isn't just selling games to a consumer. You're hoping to get deals with storefronts. You might do a Humble Bundle or something. But now it's like, if we do that, we're actually going to owe a bunch of money."

"Even for us, if we were looking at getting a big deal or something, it's like, oh, well, if we have to pay Unity five hundred grand for something, we can just maybe get someone to port the game for that into a different engine. So it's like, why would we give Unity that money if we don't have to? So it's kind of dumb on their half. But yeah, hopefully they'll kind of get a bit more lenient with it."

If you’ve done the maths as we have you’ll know that works out to be around at least $600,000 US that Massive Monster could be charged. 

It’s spiked a lot of future plans and many studios have said they might cancel or delay their games now as they look for alternatives. 

No statement from Unity CEO John Riccitiello at the time of recording but we’ll bring that to you next week no doubt. 

— 

KYLE: Our two favourite Japanese console makers Sony and Nintendo showed off a bunch of games coming soon. 

Fi I’ll take Sony and you can cover Nintendo. 

FIONA: Nice one let’s lightning round this

KYLE: Avatar: Frontiers of Pandora Ubisoft's graphically impressive adaptation of the blockbuster films sees you play as a Na’vi abducted as a child who must learn to reconnect to their roots. That’s out on the 7th of December.

Cyberpunk speed running game Ghostrunner 2 got a new demo and a release date, you can dart, slash and ride from the 26th of October. 

Helldivers 2 the third person team based shooter arrives early next year, this sequel changes quite a bit from the top down original. Pick it up on the 8th of Feb. 

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 looks visually stunning and is swinging onto consoles really soon, pick that up on the 20th of October. 

And lastly Final Fantasy VII Rebirth arrives in February next year with some big open world exploration after stepping off that rotting pizza at the end of Remake. It’s on two discs, trust me this is a big deal for the old school players and you can play it on the 29th of February. 

FIONA: Ok let’s-a-go Nintendo! (Coin sound effect)

Princess Peach: Showtime was revealed and our leading lady takes to the stage in themed performances, changing costumes and gaining new abilities like sword fighting, kung fu, investigation and um cake making. That’s out on March 22nd.

Racing game F-zero gets the 99 player Battle Royale treatment like Tetris and Mario before it, the classic NES game is out now for Switch online subscribers. 

Unicorn Overlord is the next title from Vanillaware makers of 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim. This time it’s a medieval tactical fantasy game with an incredible hand illustrated style. Gianni and Adam are super excited for this one when it arrives on the 8th of March next year .

The first three Tomb Raider games are being remade by Aspyr with updated graphics and a quick switch mode to check out those PS1 polygons. Go Guns akimbo from the 14th of Feb

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door and Mario Vs Donkey Kong are both getting a remake. 

We got a bunch of release dates for games we’ve seen a bit of already too. 

Detective Pikachu Returns arrives on the 6th of October, Warioware Move It releases on November 3rd and Super Mario RPG is out on November 17th. 

What are you most excited for? Leave us a review with the game you’re looking forward to and we’ll shout you out next week. 

KYLE: Australia’s notoriously heavy-handed National Classification Scheme will be overhauled, after banning Fallout 3 and more recently, Disco Elysium, over depictions of drug use.

FIONA: Moving forward the system will open its arms to in-house or third-party classifiers, trained and accredited by the government, which it does sort of already have but this will be expanded. 

FIONA: Only Up, the popular climbing game that took Twitch by storm has abruptly been pulled from Steam.

The game’s developer Indiesolodev, announced this week they wanted to put the game behind them after suffering lots of stress.   

The game, which launched in May this year, quickly became one of the most popular games on Twitch for its unique take on Jack and the Beanstalk and its challenging platforming.

KYLE: However the game was also hit with criticism due to quietly promoting NFTs, not having a save function, and the developer was accused of using other developer’s assets without permission.

It’s too late for those who wanted to give it a try but if you already purchased the game, at this point in time it’s still possible to play it.

KYLE: It keeps getting worse for Embracer, with rumours this week that Borderlands maker Gearbox Entertainment is up for sale. 

It’s part of a wide restructuring due to the collapse of a deal with Saudi gaming capital firm Savvy Games Group earlier this year. 

FIONA: Gearbox chief communications officer Dan Hewitt said in an internal email that a couple of options are on the table and nothing has been decided yet but confirmed Gearbox could be sold or made independent. 

— 

FIONA: That’s it for the big headlines, here’s what’s coming out over the next week.

KYLE: Out on the 19th is Lies of P, a reimagining of the Pinocchio tale in the style of an actually pretty interesting looking soulslike, and it’s getting some pretty good reviews. That’s coming to PC, PlayStation, and Xbox this Tuesday.

FIONA: Also out Tuesday, Mortal Kombat returns with the extremely confusing title, Mortal Kombat 1. It’s the twelfth main instalment in the iconic series and serves as both a sequel to 11 and the series' second reboot. That’s coming to PC and current-gen consoles on the 19th.

KYLE: The indie Post-apocalyptic RPG Day of Doom is out this week. Players will need to guide survivors through cartoon styled chaos to safety taking on zombies and raiders in turn-based combat. That’s out on all platforms on the 21st.

FIONA: PAYDAY 3 is finally here, seven years after it was initially announced. Dive into New York City with the crew, planning heists and making tactical choices to get the job done. Go stealth or loud, solo or with pals in the latest instalment in this co-op FPS series. Coming to PC and current-gen consoles this Thursday.

— 

PROMO: Articles to read, videos to watch and podcasts to listen to on sifter.com.au

— 

FIONA: This has been Walkthrough by SIFTER, my name is Fiona Bartholomaeus

KYLE: And my name is Kyle Pauletto. Thank you so much for listening. 

FIONA: We know you love our podcasts, so why not become a monthly backer on Ko-Fi? Your support lets us keep making our shows and It’s easy to do, head to sifter.com.au/support where support starts from just $1 a month that address again is sifter.com.au/support.

KYLE: SIFTER is produced by Fiona Bartholomaeus, myself, Adam Christou, Daniel Ang and Chris Button. Mitch Loh is Senior Producer, and Gianni Di Giovanni, who edited this episode and the script, is our executive producer. 

FIONA: Thanks to Brian Fairbanks from Salty Dog Sounds for composing the Walkthrough theme tune. 

Thanks to Audio Technica Australia for their support of SIFTER’s podcasts.

KYLE: Thanks again for listening, we’ll be back with more news next Sunday.

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Cult of the Lamb

PC
PlayStation 5
SWITCH
XBOX SERIES X|S
Developer:
Massive Monster
Publisher:
Devolver Digital
Release Date:
August 11, 2022

Unicorn Overlord

PlayStation 5
XBOX SERIES X|S
SWITCH
Developer:
Vanillaware
Publisher:
ATLUS / SEGA
Release Date:
March 7, 2024
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