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Excluded by Unity's Online Service Strategic Partnership Agreement

A poor fit for indie and small developers

A few months back I started writing a command line application that goes by the name of Blazer. Essentially its purpose is to manage files stored in Backblaze's B2 cloud service. It is roughly analogous to Amazon's S3 in that it can be use for private and public cloud based file storage. I wrote the command line app for my own purposes and released it on github - over here if interested.

Since I was deep in that subject matter I figured I would capitalize on that aquired knowledge and build a Unity plugin allowing games developers to keep assets in B2. Potentially for streaming or for DLC. It took a little longer than I expected but the going was easy enough. Documentation and packaging always takes more time that one expectes but when that was done I felt it was ready. The Unity package I simply named Blazer for Unity.

One evening I submitted it for review. At this point things got a little more complicated. The review took some time, almost 4 weeks, eventually it got reviewed and it was quickly rejected. I received a short accompanying message that I should contact another individual to proceed with my submission.

On a later Skype call with a Unity representative it was explained to me that because my package fell under a service description it would be met with different terms from the usual Asset Store submission. Although I do not remember it being named checked during my discussion, I have since heard it described as Unity's Online Service Strategic Partnership agreement. Under the agreement, which is mandatory for a Unity Store listing, a Strategic Partner can choose to pay $150 USD per download or alternatively a flat annual fee of $100,000 USD. I was planning to sell the plugin for about $20 USD as a one off per developer and then purchasers could arrange for their own accounts and subscriptions with Backblaze. That is certainly how I designed the plugin to work. It didn't seem to make a difference to the Unity representative that it wouldn't be me or my organisation providing the service per se. My plugin would more accurately be described as an integration. Needless to say there was no chance that entering a deal like that was going to work for me considering those parameters.

I cannot see that kind of agreement being entered into by many of the people who were early adopters and/ir grass roots users of Unity. Any small company would balk at those kind of costs, and the pricing model totally discourages any who seek to build integrations between Unity and services. This pricing structure seems like a very blunt instrument. I hope that one day soon a continuation of the touted philosophy of "Democratization of Development" might one day again prevail at Unity.

For now though, having invested time into building the Blazer for Unity plugin and seemingly unable to distribute it on the Unity Asset Store I'm left with the question as to what to do with it.

It seems I have only two real options. Given that there is a lack Unity Asset store alternative I could attempt to sell the plugin directly. I think this is possible but likely futile. Alternatively I could simply open source the Plugin. A decision that requires rumination and that I will defer for now.

Planetoid Pioneers on Twitch TV

Planetoid Pioneers on Twitch TV

Interview with some of the Planetoid Pioneers crew on Twitch TV recorded at PAX.

Watch live video from Twitch on Twitch

An incubator (Stugan programme) internal exposé on Planetoid Pioneers

Learning media savvy

Indie games developers have to wear a lot of hats. The breadth of skills one needs to bring a project successfully to fruition do not all come naturally to us and may exist firmly outside of our comfort zone. Project management, brokering publishing deals, marketing, team management and recruiting - all these skills are outside of what many developers would consider their forte.

The Stugan programme is trucking a holistic approach. With only a small amount of time to really impact upon the participants (a couple of months flys by!) it makes sense to touch on a lot of important skill areas that traditionally developers might be a little weak on. This maximises impact and growth.

To that end the Stugan mentors are helping participants plan and execute a video exposé on their title. As it turns out Planetoid Pioneers was first cab off the rank. This was the result.