Just days before launch, Unity fee forces Sims-like house sim to cut free-to-play plans and start charging $20

 Hometopia house.
Hometopia house.

The developer of an upcoming Sims-like has had to scrap its free-to-play release plans and instead charge players due to Unity's recently announced fee changes.

Hometopia, a co-op home renovation sim that takes the best part of The Sims 4 and turns it into its own game, will no longer be free-to-play when it releases at the end of this month. On September 18, developer Hometopia Inc. released a statement on Twitter telling fans about how Unity's changes - which could charge developers a fee each time someone installs their game - have affected the game's release.

Originally, the building sim was supposed to be released on PC on September 27 via Early Access and wouldn't cost players a thing unless they wanted to upgrade the game by purchasing DLC. Now players will have to pay $19.99 to play Hometopia.

"Last week, Unity unexpectedly changed their pricing model to a pay-per-install basis, essentially making all but the biggest free-to-play games unsustainable," a statement reads on the game's Twitter account. "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 don't want to delay our planned September 27th release."

"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," the statement continues, "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."

There is a silver lining to this situation though. Firstly, Hometopia will still be released on the day it was supposed to, September 27. Secondly, although you now have to pay to access the game, the originally planned 'Builders Pass' DLC (which features 1,000 new items and premium biomes) will now be included in the game upon initial purchase - which would have cost players $19.99 on its own anyway. Finally, all of the Builders Pass updates and additions that were planned for Early Access will now be automatically added to Hometopia at no extra cost.

Thankfully, Hometopia's dedicated community has reacted fairly positively to the news. In the replies to the statement on Twitter, one user writes: "Games are a product that requires hard work, humans who have bills to pay, office space, etc. so I'd expect to be charged for all that like any other product and $20 feels super reasonable. Thank you for the transparency."

"You made what appears to be an exciting, relaxing game with tons of replayability. $20 is more than fair, and I still look forward to playing Hometopia," another adds. "Fully understandable. The addition of DLC at no added cost is a big W," a different Twitter user replied. It's great to see that there are a lot of understanding people out there rooting for indie developers following the Unity news.

To see more developer reactions: Game devs say Unity's new install fee is a threat to everyone, including gamers, and there's no going back.