GameMaker offers free version as ‘gift’ to developers

GameMaker offers free version as ‘gift’ to developers Ryan is a senior editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience covering the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be sighted at tech conferences with a strong coffee in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it's geeky, he’s probably into it. Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (

2D game engine GameMaker has announced massive pricing changes in what its head calls a “gift” to its loyal user base.

Starting today, GameMaker will be free to use for noncommercial, non-console game development projects in a move CEO Russell Kay says is meant to “do the opposite” of recent unpopular decisions by competitors like Unity and Unreal Engine.

Specifically, GameMaker is eliminating the $9.99 per month indie and creator subscription fee. Instead, developers must pay a one-time $99 licensing fee to release commercial projects. Additionally, current subscribers will see past subscription fees discounted from that $99 price in what Kay termed a “thank you” to early adopters.

Kay said the dramatic shift comes in response to the backlash against other engines. “We have seen other platforms making awkward moves with their pricing and terms, so we thought, what if we did the opposite, something that could actually be good for developers?” he wrote in today’s announcement.  

That awkwardness likely refers to Unity’s now-reversed decision to limit free users earlier this year, sparking developer boycotts that preceded CEO John Riccitiello’s retirement last month. Unreal also frustrated some core users by taking its once-free engine paid.

While enterprise-level GameMaker subscriptions remain unchanged, opening up a free non-commercial tier provides an onramp for new users. Kay overtly stated the goal is growth, writing, “Our success is measured by the number of people making games!”

By the numbers, Kay reports GameMaker’s audience has tripled since 2021. The software powers hit indie games like Undertale, Hotline Miami 2, and Chicory: A Colorful Tale.

GameMaker’s new pricing is positioned to boost those statistics even higher by removing financial barriers for hobbyist developers.

(Image Credit: Undertale by tobyfox)

See also: Unity unveils AI innovations and platform updates at Unite 2023

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