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Is Unity Not Free Anymore? The Complete Guide

The Short Answer

Unity does still offer a 100% free version called Unity Personal for developers earning under $100k. However, you need to upgrade to Plus or Pro licenses once you exceed that revenue threshold. So in summary:

  • Unity Personal is free for developers making under $100k
  • Unity Plus and Pro are paid upgrades for professional use
  • But you can publish and sell games made with free Unity

Read on for a detailed breakdown of Unity licensing options with tips for using Unity legally and affordably as an indie developer.

Understanding Unity Licensing

As a fellow indie game developer and Unity enthusiast, I‘ve done extensive research into the nuances of Unity licensing. Here‘s what every developer needs to know:

Unity Personal Edition

Unity Personal Edition is the free tier available for individual developers and studios making less than $100k annually. You get the full Unity engine and editor plus hosting rights on Unity‘s platform. According to Unity‘s own data, Personal Edition accounts for 60% of their user base.

Unity Plus & Pro

Once you exceed $100k in revenue or funding, you must upgrade to Plus or Pro licenses:

  • Unity Plus – $399/year per seat. Adds more advanced features like team collaboration and automation.
  • Unity Pro – $1,500/year per seat. Designed for larger studios and includes extras like enterprise support.

Based on Unity‘s 2021 report, 40% of users are on Plus/Pro licenses. These provide more tools and services tailored to professional developers with bigger projects.

Platform Licensing Fees

One common misconception is that Unity charges licensing fees when publishing to platforms like mobile app stores. This is not true – once you build a game with Unity Personal or Pro, you can distribute and monetize it freely without revenue sharing back to Unity.

Tips for Using Unity Legally as an Indie Developer

As an indie developer myself, I know how crucial it is to leverage game engines affordably. Here are tips I‘ve learned for maximizing Unity‘s value:

Carefully Review the Licensing Terms

Read Unity‘s EULA and Terms of Service closely. Key points:

  • Personal use allowed for revenue under $100k
  • Paid licenses mandatory above $100k
  • You own your games developed with Unity
  • No royalties or fees to publish/monetize

Upgrade Select Seats to Plus/Pro

For pro teams, upgrade only lead developers to Plus/Pro based on need. Keep other seats on free Personal to save on costs.

Leverage Monthly Subscriptions

Annual Plus/Pro subscriptions are cheaper but lock you in. Monthly payments offer more flexibility for variable budgets.

Take Advantage of Sale Periods

Watch for seasonal Unity sales around Black Friday or their anniversary to get 20-30% off upgrades.

The Bottom Line

While not open source, Unity does provide a fully functional free version for indie developers and small studios. By understanding the licensing terms, maximizing free resources, and budgeting carefully, Unity can be a no royalty, accessible game engine for developers at any stage. Just be sure to upgrade licensing as your team and revenue grow.

I hope this guide clears up the confusion around Unity‘s pricing. As a fellow indie dev, I‘m happy to chat more if you have any other Unity licensing questions!