Transcript:

00:00 Intro Welcome to the Player Engage podcast, where we dive into the biggest challenges, technologies, trends, and best practices for creating unforgettable player experiences. Player Engage is brought to you as a collaboration between Keyword Studios and Helpshift. Here is your host, Greg Posner.

00:16 Greg Posner Hey everybody, welcome to the Player Engaged podcast. Today I’m joined by Josh Loveridge again. Our first guest ever is making a return from Stratton Studios and we are actually doing a special episode today where we are going to talk about Unity. community has been getting a lot of news in the press recently. For our listeners who aren’t in gaming, we’ll give you a brief overview of what happened and why it’s important to know. But we just want to kind of release a special edition so people can understand what’s happening. See both sides of it because you obviously hear a very vocal side, which is the community side. But there is a business side that has to be ran as well to understand both sides of it. And there’s the recent news of kind of some revisions of pricing. But Josh, before I go too deep into this, you want to say hi or anything?

01:00 Josh Loveridge Yeah, how are we doing, everyone? Great. Great to be back. You know, I’m honored.

01:07 Greg Posner I’m honored to have you back. Josh and I got to meet for the first time in our second time actually in Gamescom. We had a great conversation and kind of keep this going. I appreciate you coming back on, Josh, because I do think you have a great view on this. So Would you like to do it or should I do a kind of a brief intro of what’s going on with Unity and where we are today?

01:29 Josh Loveridge I can give a brief kind of a little tale of the tape, so to speak. So I think about a week ago or maybe a little bit longer than a week ago, Unity came out with an announcement that there was a business shift they were doing. They were introducing a runtime fee. that essentially, to cut it short, the community wasn’t very happy with. The community just didn’t like the way it was communicated, didn’t like the model that was presented, and it raised more questions than answers, I think was the biggest takeaway that everyone had from the actual initial announcement. Then, after a couple of days of back and forth, lots of crazy stuff happening, people getting the pitchforks out as they do, then Unity, just on Friday, done a fireside chat and a revised announcement where they clarified a lot of the questions that people had, made things a lot more clearer, and laid a foundation for what, essentially, the new FIIA structure consists of. So to give people an idea of what the new fee structure is, there’s two options essentially. And so if your games over a million dollars, I think in role and revenue, you have two options to pay the fee. There’s a 2.5% revenue share that’s flat, or there is a fee based upon the number of new players engaging with your game each month. So you have two options. You choose whichever is best for your business model at that point in time. So if your business model has a really high number of installs and that’s going to be crazy for you to pay that fee, then you just go with the revenue share which is 2.5% flat. So that’s pretty much the model. This only applies though if your game is over a certain threshold, which the threshold now being I think a million dollars for that game. And then they made some revisions to how Unity Unity, like personal edition work. So they raised the barrier revenue from 100 to 200k. So there was a bunch of modifications made. And they’re just changing the way they do business, really.

03:53 Greg Posner So let’s run it back and just talk about what you just said here. And I’ll put some dates on it. On September 12, Unity announced their new pricing. package updates. The biggest thing that people talk about it is that, and I’m just going to be broad here, it’s about $0.20 per install of the game. Meaning that if I’m an indie developer, if I’m a AAA game developer, and I create a game and it has more than a certain number of hits my threshold of users or revenue, I’m going to be charged $0.20 per person that has installed that game. I feel like at FaceVal, well, let’s continue that. On September 13th, they already got a lot of feedback from the audience and their crowd, and the crowd was not happy, for lack of better words. There was a lot of resistance, a lot of just not happiness based on this pricing, how it will affect a lot of companies’ bottom lines. It becomes very expensive for these developers, right? A lot of them are trying to be indie developers, especially because the Unity engine is a smaller engine, so indie is trying to build up their their credentials and now all of a sudden having to look at the potential costs of that. On September 17th, which I think was a week ago exactly today, Unity acknowledged the feedback, again, letting you know, hey, we heard you and we’re going to relook at the pricing. And then September 22nd, which was Friday, I believe. I am not good with days. Yep. Unity revised the pricing, as Josh was just saying, based on either 2.5% of your game’s monthly gross revenue or revenue share model. This was only for games that have more than a million dollars in the trailing 12 months would be revised. And I think that’s an important part of it, right? I mean, between us, Josh, right? Unity is a business and we don’t have sides here, right? We’re just talking business, right? Unity is a business that needs to make money. You know, Steam does something similar, I believe, when you want to post games on Steam. Epic, I feel like, is doing something similar. I know they’re trying to undercut Steam, and now Unity also wants a piece of that. They saw a big boom and surge during COVID of people playing games, and now that boom is coming to an end, but they still need to make money. I mean, is it out of line to say, if your game’s making a million dollars, 20 cents per install, is that crazy?

06:14 Josh Loveridge Well, and I think that, I don’t think it is. But here’s the caveat. And the reason I say that is because remember that most of Unity’s populace, the community, is on Unity Personal. They’re not making money in the games that they’re making. And Unity have now hired that threshold to 200 grand. So you have to be making 200k a year On your game, obviously that’s gross and you’ve got to pay people out of that and stuff, but still that’s like a mini business, you know, that’s a micro business. So. I mean. At that point in time, I would like to think that you are starting to figure out, okay, how are we going to, that’s your, at that point you’re at what I like to call the inflection point of running something for passion rather than a business. And then you got to look at, okay, how can we make this actually a business? Um, so. I think that it’s pretty, pretty reasonable. And the other thing is your game has to make a million dollars in 12 months, like trail and revenue before it actually is subject to the fee, which I mean, if your game’s making a million, I would like to say that then you should definitely have this stuff figured out. 2.5% or the runtime fee, I feel like that’s pretty fair. If we look at the competitive market out there, like Unreal, we’re talking 5%. I mean, you got, you can’t, you can’t, I get there’s two camps here. There is the camp of, okay, well, you know, it should be free to use, you know, open source, all that jazz. That’s great. But I feel like for professional tools, you got to be willing to pay for them. You know, it’s just, and I know people already pay unity subscriptions, like your pro and all that jazz, but you know, it’s still, you know, it’s a business, you’re going to have expenses.

08:11 Greg Posner We’re in a world of reoccurring revenue, right? And we’ve got to see how we can maximize that. It is two sides. I think my thought on it, and I don’t know where I sit, but again, like you mentioned, a million dollars in the trailing 12 months means your game is making money and you’re making money. What was the worrisome part, I think, in the beginning was how the numbers were reported. So for people that don’t know, you know, And developers may not know how many people actually have their game installed. Or what happens if you download a PC game and all of a sudden it gets pirated and all of a sudden thousands of people start installing that game and all of a sudden you’re going to be responsible for someone that pirated your game and it gets out of control and you can’t monitor that. So I think now that they’re revised that way, Unity won’t be coming up with the numbers. You have to submit numbers to Unity. Maybe that maybe softens the blow, but then you still need a good way to be able to report how many people have your game installed.

09:09 Josh Loveridge Yeah. And in that, I think, you know, It’s interesting because if we’re all being honest, there is no, there’s no good way to roll out significant industry change in decisions. It’s never going to be perfect. Ever. No matter how well the communication strategy is architected, it’s never going to be perfect. But the problem with that is with an imperfect communication strategy, you break trust and trust is one of the biggest assets we have in the game development community. The community was built upon trust in the beginning. And once you break that, then there comes a point where, you know, the consumer centricity that you’re striving towards as a business becomes slightly outweighed. So, you know, there definitely was a misstep made there. Like everyone knows that. I don’t think anyone can stand behind that and say, you know, hey, listen, this was a great, great communication strategy. It was, it was a misstep. But, I think I value companies, me personally, I value companies not in the decisions they make, but what they do afterwards based upon the feedback they receive. Like if Unity came out and said, Hey, listen, we’re doubling down. It is what it is. And then I’d be like, okay, well, that’s a different case. But I mean, they’ve revised the plans, they’ve, you know, came out with further clarifications. People are being heard and that’s what I really love to say. So I mean, I think it’s shaken a lot of trust for a lot of companies, a lot of studios, because they were like, hey, listen, my business is going to be impacted, you know, and this is being forced upon me. There’s nothing I can do. This isn’t fair. And that’s not fair either. But I feel like with these, with the new plan, the new strategy that Unity’s rolled out, it’s workable for a business. It’s workable, like say two and a half percent your game. I am, you know, you might have to make some changes slightly, but I mean, I don’t think that like that’s not bankrupt and businesses. It should know.

11:18 Greg Posner Definitely not, right? Especially because of the $1 million rolling period where you’ve got to be making that much money. But I think there was a few weird issues throughout this, right? One small one that some people I’ve noticed saw was that over some period of time recently, Unity removed their Terms of Services from their website. And people were thinking that was kind of a shady move. And then Unity came back and said it just wasn’t getting a lot of views. But it’s a legal document. I can’t tell you. how often people go in to take a look at a legal document. I think, again, there’s this quote I love from Batman Begins. It’s one of my favorite quotes. It’s that you either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. And I feel like this happened with Google, right? Like Google’s original slogan was what? Do good or something like that. And, you know, Unity was… For people that don’t know Unity, they own over 50% of the mobile market. Most mobile games that you play are probably built on Unity and it’s very easy to use. It got us started with a lot of indies, right? People could just quickly pick it up. And then all of a sudden, I think it’s kind of like, all right, we’re going to be putting on our big boy pants now and we are going to become a big company, which has to happen, right? To your point, it comes down to communication, how you handle it. Sometimes you know you’re going to be inferred and you’re just going to do it. It’s interesting that they doubled down, but it seems like they came around. With all this news being said, from the beginning, why do you think the pitchforks came out? Was it just because of it? Do you think people didn’t settle with it?

12:48 Josh Loveridge People are interesting. The reason I like to say that is, And this is, this is going to sound a bit wild, but oftentimes people are, because if people really don’t initially, if people don’t the math on how it was actually got, how much it was going to cost, I think it worked out to around three or 4% of your games revenue. which still was, you know, so it wasn’t terrible, but that feature, it was just too, the communication was just off. That was the, that was the reason people got scared. It’s like when you take a, someone’s, you know, when you take something from someone without their permission, they get angry, you know, and then what you get is you get, you know, kind of, it’s like the five stages of grief, you know, you get the anger, then you get, you know, all of that jazz. So. People got angry because they felt like they weren’t being listened to or they weren’t communicated to. Now, once that anger was triggered, you got the emotional response that then was moving on from that. So there was a bunch of emotional people, emotional responses. Everyone was like, get the pitchforks out. That’s it. You know, we’re coming for them. But. Any business person and any person that’s been in the industry for a long time knows that in times like this, you got often to take a step back. Because when you take a step back out of the weeds, the picture becomes a lot clearer. Like, let’s look at this from a holistic point of view. And this is the way I’ve been talking to people about it and it starts to contextualize it. If your game development company was not making money, was not profitable, For since its inception, would you as a company look to change that? And most people would be like, yeah, I got to make money. Otherwise I can’t leave. I can’t feed my families. Then why is it different for the engine that you’re using to do that? It’s not. Just because Unity is a bigger company doesn’t mean it’s not run by people. It’s run by people at the end of the day and Unity as a company is not one of the most profitable companies out there. All you got to do is look at their public file and stock market and all that jazz. Most people haven’t looked at that so they don’t know that. I feel like If there hadn’t been the communication strategy of like, hey, listen, as a business, guys, and as a community, we need to adapt how we’re monetizing our model, because right now it’s not working. We want to deliver the best product for you. And to do that, we need more money. It is what it is. If they hadn’t just done that, I feel like everyone would have been just been like, Okay. I mean, that’s fair enough because at the end of the day, we all need to co-exist together. We can’t co-exist without each other. I’ve seen a bunch of people saying, Oh, we’re going to custom engine. We’re going to do this as someone who works in custom engines a lot. I can tell you it ain’t as easy as you think it might see him. The grass isn’t always greener. I can promise you that. And you know, moving engine engineers to different engines, more expensive rates go. It’s just difficult. So I think that was the initial reaction. That’s why the pitchforks came out. And then obviously there was a bunch of cascading stuff from there. Because once someone feels attacked, that’s when people start saying silly stuff. So it was an interesting thing to watch from the sidelines. Because you can almost predict what was going to happen. you know the initial announcement was going to come out then you know give it a couple days then it gets rolled back and then like you know and then people are happy some people aren’t happy but then the trust is the trust is the biggest thing that’s broken throughout all of this and now it’s a matter of okay what can be done to rebuild that trust in a way that doesn’t ostracize unity from the industry as a whole because And here’s something that’s very interesting. The court of public opinion often rushes to judgment. It doesn’t allow room for errors and second chances. But accountability is crucial. I will say that. You have to hold people accountable. But we don’t live in a world of unforgiving, zero-tolerance stances, because that gets us nowhere. You know, anyone can make a mistake. Anyone can make a misstep. It is what it is. But oftentimes you got to make missteps to grow and to innovate. You know, it’s part of it. You can’t not make mistakes. and grow. It just does it. They’re, they’re, they’re not, uh, they’re mutually exclusive sort of thing. And, you know, the community as a whole know that, um, you know, so one mistake as a whole, like that’d be like saying a developer made a bad game. So that’s it, you’re done, you know, you’re finished, finished for life. Um, you know, one mistake should never warrant the lifetime of exile.” That’s a quote that I like. I really like that quote because you can’t exile people. And here’s the interesting other thing. And the reason this is so fueled and so charged is because game developments tribes based upon the sense of community and shared goals that we all have. We all want to make something that players love and enjoy. I love that because that is the essence of why we do what we do. And you know, Directing anger at people distracts from that. It distracts from the collaborative spirit of the community, you know? And that’s what’s fueled the industry’s growth. That’s what’s fueled Gaming to be bigger than the films industry, bigger than all the other creative arts, because we are so connected, we’re so collaborative, and we all work together to get the job done. So it’s all about finding solutions together as a community rather than, you know, bickering over silly issues. Like if we’ve got a problem with people, talk to them, say, hey, listen, this is and the community did. There was many reasonable people who said, hey, listen, this isn’t going to work as a business. What about like the, you know, piracy, you know, all this jazz? That’s just not going to work for me. And that then became heard, um, and they made changes upon that. So, uh, I mean, I think it’s pretty, I think what it shows and is that unity is willing to listen. Um, you know, like not every idea is a great one, but you know, you can kind of run from there.

19:34 Greg Posner I think. You brought up a really great point and there’s a few things I want to mention, right? I think one thing you’re talking about is kind of what I like to consider that social media effect is where news just gets projected much, much quicker and more anti-something. very quickly, right? And that’s what happened with Unity here. And I think a great example that we’re living through right now is also, if you take a look at CG Project Red with Cyberpunk, right? Cyberpunk came out half built, half working. People were hating them, giving them the biggest crap they could. And then this week or last week, I think they launched Phantom Liberty, which is their DLC that’s getting such praise. And it just showed that They heard the people’s outcries. They probably knew they were releasing an unfinished game and they worked and they fixed it and they turned around the social media perception. The problem is it comes at you so quickly, so hard when there’s millions of voices, anonymous voices coming at you from the internet. It gets scary and I think that’s what happened with Unity. It’s a great point is that they made an announcement Pitchforks came out instantly, and maybe they could have done better with the initial announcement. But I think no matter how you deliver that news, it’s going to come out poorly. And my one questionable aspect of it as well is, you know, they made this whole play in the middle that if you switch to their marketing stack, you won’t be subject to this charge. And I kind of thought it almost sounds monopolistic. Like, hey, if you start using our marketing stuff, yeah, you don’t have to pay that fee anymore. One part also came off kind of shady to me. It was like, weird to throw that in there. But again, I think it’s a business decision and it sucks for some people, but it’s really not as bad as people are making it blow up to be.

21:18 Josh Loveridge Timing, timing, timing, timing is the key thing. Because think of it this way. If someone is your biggest customer, they’re using all your products, you’re going to give them discounts across their various different services. That is common business practice. Everyone does it. Think of it this way. If a company came to you as a game development studio and they said, right, I want to hire a thousand engineers from you, but we want you to do some other stuff on the side. Can you, can you compromise on the rates a little bit? You’d say, sure, yeah, we can make that work. You know, volume. Unity just did the same thing. The problem was when they announced it. It was a bad time to say a few days later, oh, but if you use this, then we’re going to give it to you cheaper. It wasn’t architected. It was a knee-jerk reaction. But I’d say, and a perfect example I like to give this is, we’ve seen this before. Think of No Man’s Sky. No Man’s Sky came out, the pitchforks were out, bad. The pitchforks, that was a good example of it. People hated it. But, No Man’s Sky is covered it today. Because, While they made a misstep, they worked backwards from it and they came back to rebuild that trust. The one thing I always like to say is, you know, and there’s always a lot of noise in cancellations, you know, the public court of opinion cancellations. It’s an interesting, it’s an interesting paradigm, but. When all the noise that comes out of it, you know, knee-jerk reactions and stuff like that, it’s always best to just wait a week or two, the two-week cycle, as I was saying to you earlier, is that’s what happens. And then after two weeks, you really figure out what’s going on. And then once all the emotions gone out of it, then, you know, things are clearer. The one thing I will say is, regaining trust, the big thing is, regaining that trust is a marathon, it’s not a sprint. How long did it take No Man’s Sky? Four or five years? It’s going to require a lot of time, transparency, consistency, that demonstrate the commitment Unity has made to its developers. And right now, it’s okay for us to be critical, demand accountability, you know, be all that, be upset. That’s natural. These are human emotions. And at the end of the day, unity is run by people. That’s, that’s it. Like, that’s the one, that’s the one thing I feel sorry for now. People think of unity as some weird shadowy cabal. That’s like, you know, like, like they’re, you know, yeah, I know we’re all creative people and we like to, you know, make stories over everything. But at the end of the day, Unity is run by people and people make mistakes and that’s okay. I think the interesting bit though is as long as they’re committed to that path to regaining that trust, then we’re good. People are going to still use Unity. Why? Because the tools are good. It makes our lives easier. Anyone that says, oh, we’re going to do a custom engine, that’s it. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Everyone will come back because at the end of the day, it’s challenging to do that. There’s a reason. Nobody wants to reinvent the wheel. Do I think it’s going to hurt their market share a little bit? 100%. I think we have seen a bit of an exodus, so to speak. That’s all emotional knee-jerk. I’m sure people will come back eventually. Put it this way, and this is the bit I love about this. With this new monetization model, it’s going to bring a new age of the Unity game engine. That’s not what a lot of people have thought about. Think of it this way. Unity as a company is going to have more money to invest in their product and make it better, faster. That’s exciting to me. That is super exciting to me. More innovation, more tooling, more investment. That’s cool. A profitable company is a good company because the users then get the benefit of that. All we have to do is look at other use cases in the marketplace. And I think it’ll all work out in the end. I think for the next few years, the new developers that are coming in are going to have a bad impression of Unity. I do think that. I think it’s going to be a long journey to recover that. Everyone’s going to be like, oh, don’t use that sort of thing. Learn something else. I think at the end of the day, that will pass with time until the next cancellation comes along. Because remember, the court of public opinion moves on pretty quickly. Just wait until there’s another drama and then people will move on. Because that’s what people do. They feed on that cycle.

26:08 Greg Posner Well, the one devil’s advocate to that would be the fact that with a game like No Man’s Sky, I could turn it off for two years and come back after some updates and play where games are still being created today, right? And you didn’t create 85% of a game and drop it to say, hey, I’m going to port this to Unreal because… That is a lot of work. That is a lot of money. And people aren’t going to do that. The question, and so Stratton Studios, you’re helping your customers build games, right? You’re co-developing, you’re doing different parts of it. So you don’t necessarily get to choose the engine, right? Your customers are coming to you saying, hey, we’re building this in Unreal or we’re building this in Unity. Do you foresee, I guess, have you talked to your employees like, hey, we might want to start learning things like Godot or some other engines as well, just to start saying there might be a change coming?

26:54 Josh Loveridge I, as a business owner, and this is me talking as a business owner, I, I’m a, I like to be the Swiss army knife. You know, you got to be ready for anything. And at the end of the day, a requirement to work at Stratton is that you know, multiple engines anyway. You need to know C++, a lot of our engineers do. Why? Because a lot of the work we do in Unity anyway is native plugin work at the core level. So, you know, we’re doing that regardless. Building custom systems, thorny technical stuff is our, that’s what we do. So, I mean, all of our guys are very adaptable and stuff like that. Adaptability in it, Technological industry is a key that’s the metric of success is how quick you can pay that if you need to do i see there being this massive title wave of you know kinda shift that company now i just said i sat everyone down i said listen guys. I was like, I know some people aren’t happy with this. I know it is what it is, but as a company, we’ll get through it together. Whatever the impact, whatever the outcome, you know, together we’re stronger and we’ll get it done. You know, that’s what we’ve always done. We’ll figure it out. You know, as the great Irish saying goes, it’ll be grand. You know, it will be grand. I’m not worried at all. I think that, you know, anyone that is needs to just calm down a little bit and, you know, take a week or two, take a week or two, step back, reevaluate and say, right. Okay. Is you, cause I get that where people saying, oh, listen, my game’s 80% done in unity. Now I have to figure this out. If 2.5% of your game’s revenue makes or breaks your business, That’s scary. I’d be more concerned about other things. I really would. And maybe you need to look at like how cash flow works and stuff because that’s scary. Like two and a half percent should not be concerning at all. And that should be like, you know, what is it? That should be it. You know, it should be easy. Two and a half percent should just be like, oh, great. More and more and more stuff I can write off for tax sort of thing.

29:10 Greg Posner You know, and there’s also the, uh, I mean, kind of build on that. There’s so many unity developers out there that it’s probably cheaper to get a unity developer than an unreal developer or some other studio. So you might be saving money just in cost. They’re 100% flooded the market with people at no unity.

29:28 Josh Loveridge Yeah. Well put it this way. We, we have both internally and I can tell you now our own real devs are the ones who get paid more. They get paid quite substantially more actually. Because the skill sets harder, it’s harder to learn, you know, it is what it is. If someone’s good at Unreal, generally they’re going to be a good candidate for custom engine work too. So, it’s, you know, that is something that game companies are going to have to take into account. And say if someone switched to Unreal, they’re going to be paying 5% anyway, so that kind of, that puts that out of the running straight away. The other option is Godot. Now, Is Godot an option and viable for people? At a hundred percent, like if you can build what you want in the tools, go have fun, you know, but I would be willing to, to, to put a pretty penny on it. That’s any game that is really striving to, you know, kind of monetize, make revenue and stuff like that. is not going to want to use open source tooling that may need some work done to it and stuff like that to get it where it needs to be. They don’t have time for it. Time is money for a lot of game companies, it really is. And every second you have to spend working on your tooling rather than taking away, you know, is taking away your development time on the game. And that exact whole nuance is what keeps Stratton in business, you know, is people not wanting to do the technical, thorny stuff. They want someone else to do it. So I don’t see there being this massive like, you know, thing. Now, maybe if Unreal came out with like a mobile, made a massive push for mobile, maybe then there are two different markets, in my opinion, two different verticals. There’s room for everyone. You know, some will move, some won’t. It’s just really, yeah, it’s just a bit of a shift.

31:25 Greg Posner Well, in the world of Unity, it will be interesting to your point. Now that they’re going to start making money, they’ll be able to improve their engine. And one place Unity always kind of came short compared to Unreal was for AAA titles, right? Most massive hits or massive games that are put out there are built on Unreal just because the tool set is more polished. It’s got better. quality assets along with it. So maybe now that Unity can start putting some money towards it, they’ll be able to start competing with Unreal at that level. And then, I mean, then you got the complete opposite where Godot is going to be cheaper than all the options. The thing is, you’re going to really need to know what you’re doing. You’re really going to go into the weeds with that, right? So it’s funny. It almost seems like, and I wasn’t really familiar with the gaming space when Unity launched, but it seems like Godot is where Unity, when Unity launched and Unity is now kind of trying to step more up to Unreal and the whole power dynamic is shifting.

32:14 Josh Loveridge Well, Unreal did this exact thing, like what was it, five years ago? God, I’m getting old. It was more than five years ago. I think it was 2015 when they shifted, but they did a whole marketing campaign. If you love something, set it free. It was very well architected, very well communicated. And they were like, hey, we’re open sourcing the engine. We’re going to charge a five percent royalty. And people didn’t care, really. There was some a bit of kick up about it, but it wasn’t like, you know, it wasn’t get the pitchforks out and slay them. But I think the Internet was a different place at that time. The Internet was not as vitriolic as it is now. The Internet is like, you know, you know, it’s a hard out there now. It’s like, you know, It’s a bit like the Thunderdome from Mad Max if I’m honest. You gotta, you know, so it wasn’t like that back then, you know, whereas now it is. So I think that it was always going to cause like, you know, the pitchforks, it was always going to be, you know, thing. But if you talk to any Unity developer that has staged their business on it, and I’ve talked to a lot, a lot of them are kind of being like, oh, this is something we’re going to have to account for. I see some concerns from people that publishers are just going to use it as a way to take more money away from the end developer and anyone that’s saying that I’m like, well, that’s a conversation you need to work out with your publisher. But again, it comes back to if you’re really struggling over two and a half percent, I mean, that’s scary in my opinion. Um, you know, I, I can tell you, I couldn’t run a business if I, I couldn’t do it. If two and a half percent was my, you know, was the bread line for me, I’d be, I’d be worried.

33:59 Greg Posner So kind of wrapping this all together here at the end. First, a different question would be if you can go back 10 years, Josh, and start learning a platform, would you still choose maybe a Unity because there’s a lot of information out there? Or would you be more interested in open source like a Doe or a polished one like Unreal? What would your wisdom say other than learn all of them because that’s what you want to do?

34:24 Josh Loveridge So I didn’t start in any of them.

34:28 Greg Posner So this is a difficult answer.

34:29 Josh Loveridge Let’s get, let’s give it, let’s give a throwback. Let’s, let’s go back a little bit, uh, to a younger Josh. I started out in blender game engine, OG blender. Yeah. Yeah. The OG blender game engine and scratch before that. So, I mean, and then I, so I went from, uh, what was it? It was scratched to blend the game engine, then from blender game engine to, um, unity. Then from Unity to Unreal, then Unreal to Custom Engine. That was my path of progression. Would I do it any differently again? Not a chance. Because at the end of the day, that has made me the developer that I am today. And I feel like you gotta go through the fire a little bit. You know, Unity has a lot of resources. Listen, if you want to go full tilt and learn C++ straight off the bat, it’s more challenging. Like, you know, I see the guys internally that are training on it and they find it more difficult. Working in something like C Sharp first and then porting over to C++ is much easier once you have a good fundamental understanding of, you know, kind of how it runs, how it works and what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing. You know, whereas diving straight in can sometimes be misguided. So, I mean, there’s tons of resources out there for unity. They’re all very valid. A lot of, see, here’s the thing. And I always, and this is one thing I always preach internally. It does not matter the tools you are using to do something. It matters the technique on when and why you should do that, you know, and Like, uh, and the analogy I like to give is if you gave like, you know, a carpenter, like a nail going or a hammer, he’s still going to be able to build a door. You know, if you give me, if you give me a custom engine that I’ve never worked in before, give me a week or two to learn the, the, the, the editor layout and stuff like that. I’ll build you a game. No problem. Give me a new programming language i’ve never touched before if it’s object oriented great all you know i’ll learn the syntax give me a week or two i’ll be good you know that is the real obviously might take a little bit longer to become a master of it you know one thing that people always say is you know kinda and. The jack of all trades is a master of none. You know, that’s it. People love that. But they always leave out the last line, you know, which is a jack of all trades is a master of none. But a master of all is better than one or an expert that all is better than one, whatever that thing. But the analogy is that essentially it’s good to be a multi tool person rather than a master of one thing. Because if you’re a master of one thing, your egg is in one basket. You never want to have all your eggs in one basket. You want to be spread out because things change. Think of it this way. Back in the day, what happens to all the Flash developers who only knew Flash and that went out? They were up a certain creek without a paddle, as we would say over here. It’s just one of those things. You got to be willing to adapt. You got to be willing to change. We’re in an industry that changes every, every day. Just think about, you know, when mobile free-to-play came out, it was literally, everyone was like, oh, this is crazy. That’s never going to work. Yous are crazy. Giving your game for free. That’s, that’s nuts. And then, and then what happened? It became it blew up the industry change things the way we do business now is different because of that and fundamental shift so. I don’t worry about stuff like this i think it’s like you know i think you could worry about it and you could sit there all day and you could say all this is this is bad like you know what. Just pivot, just learn new things, be open to change, be open to, you know, the nuances of what we’re doing and enjoy the process. That’s what I think people miss out a lot on and is join the process. Change is good. It’s going to impact the industry in a few new ways. We’re going to see it’s like getting a new level, you know, you know, it’s like a new DLC just launched. Unity just launched a new DLC and now we all got to figure out how we’re going to beat it.

38:58 Greg Posner I think that’s fantastic. I think maybe we’re coming to the same conclusion here, where the biggest issue was communication and the way it was communicated. I think it’s fair that a company that’s building an engine can start to profit off the engine itself, other than just the monthly subscription fees that they get. But again, I guess also by putting a limit of, hey, within the last 12 trillion months, you need to have at least made a million dollars because then you know there is money. You’re not robbing from the poor. You’re making sure that your profitable guys are one. To the development aspect of it, I mean, there’s just so much education about unity out there and how to build and how to code. that’s not going away. And I think that’s going to be the most powerful part of that. If I had this type of information when I was in college, I may have actually passed C-sharp and C-plus and continued down this road. But I quickly backed out after that because there’s no great way to learn it back then. And now it’s just so easy and at our fingertips. I think my sentiment is that this was a bump in the road for Unity. pitchforks came out very quickly and made them look like the bad guy, which in theory they were. They communicated something that people weren’t happy with. But I think your biggest point was if you’re living off of a 3.5% or 2.5% margin month to month, and this is what’s really affecting you, there’s some other more underlying issues that you should be focusing on rather than just the install or the fee to run it.

40:21 Josh Loveridge Well, you can’t really go. If that’s it is what it is, you’ll never be able to make a game in Unreal. Uh, that’s straight off the bat. You’ll, you’ll only be able to do open source. And I would say, and if you’re in that boat, I would say you’re fitting under the category of unity personal, which is, you know, games that are made up to 200 K or whatever, like two for a solo dev, 200 grand. If you’re doing it yourself, that’s, that’s a good, like, you know, you’d live off that. So to speak that you’d have a really good life actually. Cause like, what is it after like a hundred and something K or your quality of life, like the, the, It’s like you’re at the top of the bell curve. So, I mean, yeah, I think, you know, it all in all, it was a bit of a, it was a bit of a speed and take it. They’ve got, you know, they went a little bit fast and both, you know, listen at the, you know, if you’re, if you’re going fast and doing something, I think. I think that’s okay. I think it’s good to see them that they want to improve what they’re doing, in my opinion. I think that’s actually, that excites me. I’m actually excited for the new features in the engine. I’m excited for the new tooling that’s going to come out. The more money they have, the more toys they give me in my little toy box. So I mean, and you know, I’m always open to getting more toys in there.

41:39 Greg Posner Spoken like a true creator, ready to go and learn more. Josh, I think this was a great session. I love being able to talk about actual true current events as they’re happening. This probably should have happened last week, but here we are. We’ve learned. I think we both feel the same way about kind of what it is, and I think probably within a month or two, most people will probably forget this conversation in general just happened. I think so. Which is probably the best thing for everyone, right? It means everything worked and goes on. But if you are affected, I’d love to be able to hear how. Leave us a comment. Let us know what pisses you off about this, because there are reasons to be on both sides of this. We’re just staking a claim on what we believe, but everyone has different thoughts and feelings. Josh, anything else you want to share? I really do appreciate you coming back on today.

42:22 Josh Loveridge No, thanks for having me back on. And yeah, the only thing I’d say is that You know, before making a judgment on someone else, try put yourself in their shoes. Try think of the people behind the product that people are using because it’s run by people. You know, just think when you get a bad review on your game, how you feel. It’s not very nice. So that’s the only thing I’d say. I hate to see the industry tearing each other down. Let’s all talk about, you know, making games and making cool product and, you know, doing stuff that everyone else says can’t be done. That’s what I want to talk about with people. I don’t want to talk about, you know, OK, well, You know, this and that and bickering. It’s like, it’s like a fight between siblings. That’s what it is. It really is. It’s like, or a hard breakup. That’s what this has been like. But you know, hopefully we won’t have to get to the stage of divorce.

43:17 Greg Posner I, you know, I think this is, that’s a good thing for anyone to know about any company is a company is made up of people. You know, it’s not those people’s choice that they, this company did it. It’s an executive level that just happens to trickle down. So don’t get pissed off at the, the support person that you talk to or someone else that talks to you. If you download a game that you dislike, don’t get mad at the developer of it. Right? Like they’re just following orders. They’re the face of, they’re not the, well, they work for the company, but like, don’t get mad at that person. Like they are human too. So, yep. Josh, again, I thank you and I hope you have a great rest of the day. For anyone that’s listening, I’d love to be able to hear your side of it too. I normally don’t say this because it’s weird, but leave a comment and let us know how you feel about it because we’d love to continue to build off this and see where it goes. So, thank you for listening. Josh, again, for the 15th time, thank you and I’m looking forward to the next time you’re back on here. So, thanks a lot.

Greg Posner

Avid gamer with a passion for storytelling. My goal is to unpack the narratives of customers, partners and others to better understand how industry-leaders tackle today's challenges.

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