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Hometopia forced to give up free-to-play plans due to Unity pricing change

Building game goes into Early Access next week
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While game engine maker Unity is dilly-dallying on whether it should backtrack completely from its controversial pricing change, which has players, developers, and publishers up in arms, the practical consequences of the company’s greedy cash grab are already on full display. Here is one example: Hometopia, a building game introduced during Steam Next Fest 2021, is going to be released into Early Access on PC on September 27, 2023.

Hometopia was supposed to be a free-to-play game, making it easy for people to try it out. The Builders Pass, a content package with 1,000 additional items and some exclusive biomes, was planned to be offered to finance the project. Due to Unity’s plans of having developers pay them a premium for each install of their game, the developers had to change their plan last-minute.

Hometopia screenshot of a cozy room with large windows.

Hometopia is a relaxed building game that can be played alone or with friends.

“Last week, Unity unexpectedly changed their pricing model to a pay-per-install basis, essentially making all but the biggest free-to-play Unity games unsustainable,” they stated in a message sent out to their community and the press. “This announcement completely blindsided us and all other indie developers using Unity. With Hometopia's Early Access launch planned for next week, the timing is particularly difficult, but we didn’t want to delay our planned September 27th release.”

They continued: “We had planned for Hometopia to be a free-to-play game with optional DLCs that players could choose to purchase to upgrade their experience. Unity’s new pricing model means we have to charge for the game, and we deeply regret that. This has been an impossibly difficult decision for us.”

Instead of being a free-to-play title, Hometopia will cost $19,99 USD and contain all the content that was originally supposed to be included in the Builders Pass. All updates coming to the pass will be added for free in the future as well. Additionally, the developers will offer a 15% discount at launch.

“We are truly sorry to make this change so close to launch, but this is the only way we can bring Hometopia to you and continue to support it for years to come. Our promise to you is that we will always listen to our community, lead with transparency, and do everything in our power to deliver the best game we possibly can,” CEO Alex Ahlund concluded the message.

As you can see, there are already very real consequences for Unity’s actions – Hometopia’s devs essentially had to throw their entire business plan out of the window. For the Early Access title, creating an easy entrance point through the free-to-play model was an essential part of its development process and long term business model, which had to be discarded.

Unity’s half-hearted apologies or allowing developers to self-report install numbers won’t fix that.