The various versions of Unity…Why we use the free version

I was reading some posts on the Unity forums today and thought I might explain to people following our game why we use Unity Personal. I am sure you will see it pop up in our test builds so you may have some questions or concerns.

When Unity 5 was released, a decision was made by the company to make some changes to the free version of Unity. Unity 4 had a very under developed version of Unity 4 with some server limitations. Shadows were hard, render to texture was not included, image effects did not work with the free version, there was no profiler to optimize, etc. While it was a great tool for learning Unity, it quickly because very limiting as our game development needs grew.

With Unity 5, the company decided to provide for free the fully featured engine, with every single feature included in Unity 5 Pro, except for a few services, some which are available to us as a separate purchase.

Unity did make the unfortunate decision to name it Unity Personal Edition, which provided fodder for many jokes on the Unity forums but also caused many players of games made with the free version to think the games were made with a non-commercial version of Unity. Unknown to them, Unity Personal Edition is a commercial version and can be used by companies who make less than $100,000 in revenue from games/applications created with Unity.

Obviously, most of us in the development mode, unless we have previously used Unity to create very successful games, have less than $100,000 revenue with Unity. Over $100,000, we will be required to purchase Unity Plus and over $200,000, we will be required to purchase Unity Pro. Again, the differences are minor.

For a small team like ours, using a paid version of Unity would actually limit us more than using the free Personal Edition. We now can add or subtract team members easily, without any licensing issues. Since teams cannot mix licenses, with Pro or even Plus, we would have to purchase a version for a new team members or ask them to provide their own. At $125 a month for Pro, that can add up. The only thing we would get that we don’t have now that could really affect our game would be a custom splash screen, which honestly, we can do without until we publish.

I see Unity forum posts every day where new Unity users complain about the high cost of Pro and honestly believe that the free version will limit them. It makes me sad, because I am so sure some walk away without realizing the potential of this free, fully featured option. Even worse, some risk legal action by pirating the Pro version for a splash screen…and a game that could be removed after months of hard work because it is using an unlicensed copy of the engine.

Every business needs to make decisions that impact their viability. For our company, using Unity Personal during our development period makes sense. Unity has been generous in their efforts to democratize game development for all, solo developers, small teams, hobbyists and professional studios who are just starting out. By putting our money into new assets, hiring artists and programmers, and upgrading our technology instead of paying for the same engine we can get for free, we feel as though we are maximizing our chances of finishing our game. Unity doesn’t require royalties, like some engines and if we make over $100k from our game, we will be more than happy to share the wealth with Unity.  In my opinion, it is a win-win situation for both companies like ours and Unity.

So, when you see Unity Personal Edition on upcoming builds, know that we are making good fiscal decisions with the best potential for the development of our game.

Small Update: We are finishing up our cooking skill and it is awesome. We are starting on the weaponsmith skills and I think you will like the unique mechanics we are adding. The character system is ready to go and we will start making new clothing for the less medieval-looking cultures. Terrain is becoming more and more amazing, with a future update adding growing fields that can be harvested, trees that can be chopped down, and beautiful terrain textures that should increase immersion.

I have volunteered some time to help a little bit with the UMA project before it’s release. Those amazing developers have given so much to an open source project, I feel at least I can give a bit back..even though it is a fraction of what they do. I do love the Unity community. 🙂

I will post more soon, but in the meantime, Enjoy!


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