Parody game Install Fee Tycoon rips into Unity: "Scam unwitting developers: get rich, and destroy the video game industry in the process!"

Install Fee Tycoon
(Image credit: Over The Moon Games)

The backlash to Unity's controversial install fees has now gone far enough to inspire the ultimate protest: a satirical idle game called Install Fee Tycoon.

The Steam page runs down the setup better than I can: "Chaos3D, the popular game engine, has started charging developers each time their games are installed in a bid to increase their stock price. They have also reached out to you, a notorious software pirate. Why? So that they can pay you to re-install those same games, of course! Scam unwitting developers: get rich, and destroy the video game industry in the process!"

Yes, folks, this is an idle game in the vein of Cookie Clicker or Clicker Heroes, but here you're clicking a 'Reinstall.bat' file in an effort to help a Unity-style game engine to scam hapless developers for piles of Unity-style install fees. While Unity has backed off those fees to an extent, the target of the satire is clear, and the timing of this game's release couldn't be more amusing given the timing of Unity's CEO making his departure.

Maybe the most surprising thing about Install Fee Tycoon is that it's actually pretty good as an idle game even beyond the joke. The whole thing takes place on an amusing recreating of a Windows XP-style desktop, where you pay for the services of chatbots and script kiddies to run game reinstalls through a Silk Road-style dark web portal called 'Cloth Road.'

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From time to time, you'll get emails that offer little puzzles to solve, rewarding you with free upgrades for your reinstall empire. For example, you might need to hack a script kiddie's definitely flawless security system to delete their porn stash and keep them focused on the task at hand. You'll occasionally get hints from a Clippy-inspired desktop assistant called Clipbro, who'll also pop up with lines like "It looks like you're trying to defraud developers. I'm happy to help!"

It's all very amusing, and the surprising quality makes sense given Install Fee Tycoon's pedigree. While the listed developer on Steam, Moonstruck, doesn't have any other credits, that's actually an alt name for Over The Moon Games, which previously developed the beloved side-scrolling sci-fi adventure game The Fall and the more recent RPG The Last Hero of Nostalgia, which has its own very positive response on Steam.

After playing a bit of Install Fee Tycoon, I'm hooked, especially since it seems like there might be some kind of narrative ending to look forward to - at least, that's the impression I've gotten from the vague promises of rewards from the emails the evil engine corporation keeps sending me. The game's only a dollar, and it's got a 40% launch discount bringing the price down to $0.59 this week. If you've got any love for idle games or any disdain for Unity's recent actions, it's very much worth a look.

Vampire Survivors' lead dev has a simple answer for whether he'll ever use Unity again: "lol no thank you!"

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.