Unity Email Controversy – What Does it Mean?

Recently, the popular game engine Unity has come under the microscope due to it sending threatening emails to developers using the engine, pressuring them to upgrade to the professional version of the product.  For the full context, please see this informative video by YouTube user, MeowCaptain:

This article will be discussing the impacts of the controversy, and what it could mean for the ever so popular engine.

1 – Privacy Scandal

One thing that may emerge, is a privacy scandal involving unity.  As explained in the video linked above, one certain developer left his editor idle for an extended period of time – and was met with an email asking him why he had been idle for so long, and offering him help with getting back to developing.  It was soon discovered that the email was sent because of the Analytics setting in the editor, which is able to collect information about your session. This is concerning, as these settings surely do not comply with the GDPR – as they can only be disabled by purchasing Unity Pro.  

Should this setting indeed not comply with the GDPR, Unity will be met with a hefty fine of 20 million euros, or 4 percent of their annual global income, whichever is higher.  This fine could have some heavy implications for Unity, as they were valued at $2.6 billion in 2017, according to techcrunch.com. A company of this size could be really hurt with a fine, should one of this magnitude come their way.  I predict that such a fine would cause some heavy setbacks in the development of the engine, meaning developers would likely have to learn a new engine, as a backup – just whilst Unity recovers from its setbacks.

2 – Breaking Trust

Many developers have spoken out about the controversy, and many small developers have stated that they plan to switch to Unreal engine or other engines of the sort.  Unity can afford to lose a few developers because it is widely regarded online as a very good engine – with masses of users, but if larger developers, like Squad, were to make the switch, it would be incredibly hurtful for Unity.  Despite this, I doubt any large developer would switch due to a single controversy like this particular controversy.

Despite this, the controversy will weaken the trust from the engine to developer.  Already, many developers have expressed their concern about the controversy, and it is only another reason for more people to dislike Unity.  No matter who you are, you can still lose anyone’s trust, no matter who they are. Personally, I am fearful that this may happen again, in which case – I will switch in a heartbeat.

3 – More hate

Many people associate Unity with awful mobile games, and many people hate the engine for this.  No one sees that many great games were made with the engine, such as Kerbal Space Program and Cuphead.  This controversy may only give those people, and others, a very valid reason to dislike the engine even more than they currently do.

Unity has all of this hate, coupled with developers using the program losing a lot of trust for them as a result of this controversy.  The last thing that Unity want is another reason for people to dislike the engine, and it is exactly what they have provided. Even though they did personally apologise to affected developers, the developers pointed out that they didn’t say they would fix the issue, to make it not happen again – in fact, there was no sign of them doing so.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Unity could be greatly affected by this.  I doubt that Unity will be forced to shut down through this controversy, I don’t even expect them to be hurt too greatly from it.  What I do expect, however, is people being very strict on Unity in the future. One more slip up, and then I am sure that Unity will be hurt greatly – especially with the perfectly viable alternatives out there, such as Unreal engine, or Defold – which are in some cases better than Unity.

This article was not a hit piece on Unity.  The controversy is concerning, and I am left not trusting the company all too much, but I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.  I hope that they realise their mistake and take appropriate action, which would be more action than their current actions on the issue. My standards for them have only been set higher, I expect more from them now, as a result of the controversy.

Note: this was written months ago, when the controversy was going to develop into something.  It didn’t but you can take this as what might happen if this was to happen again.

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