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Why are there so many abandoned packages?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dreb4o, Apr 17, 2020.

  1. dreb4o

    dreb4o

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    I have 200 packages purchased
    half of the packages I bought were abandoned
    I've lost a lot of money already

    now there is a sale and I don't know if to buy something
     
  2. neginfinity

    neginfinity

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    Because the engine changes over time, and over time developer's financial incentive to update the package decreases, while at the same time package might start losing relevance.

    Realistically speaking you should expect things you buy to be usable right now , and if they include media assets, then those will likely remain usable for a while.

    But you won't receive support forever and at some point they might break.

    If it helps, you can think of it not as buying a package, but saving time you would've spent doing the work yourself.
     
  3. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    Well, if there's something that's useful to you for a current project, or which you might learn something from, then go for it.

    Otherwise, ignore the sale and don't feel pressured to buy stuff. You've already seen why accumulating assets you're not using isn't cost effective.

    Personally, while they can be a bit of fun I think the idea of asset sales is probably a little counter-productive for a community of software developers. If something is going to help a project then chances are it's well worth the full price. If it's not going to help then making it cheaper doesn't change that. And having regular sales just encourages people to wait for them instead of just buying what they need when they need it.
     
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  4. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Unity's Asset Store can be a blessing but it can be something of a newbie trap too. I have many assets that I purchased back when I was first getting started because I wanted to play around with them, but as time passed I quickly realized I never got around to actually using them.

    I'm far more selective now than I was in the past. A code-based asset has to include source code for me to consider it at all that way if it becomes abandoned I can continue maintaining it myself. Anything else is best treated as temporary only until you can find a better solution to replace it.
     
  5. EternalAmbiguity

    EternalAmbiguity

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    Why do PyPi, Nuget, node, maven, and [insert-language-of-choice's-package-distributer] have so many abandoned packages? Why does GitHub have so many abandoned repos? Why does Steam have so many abandoned games? Why do I have a dozen Unity projects but not one of them is mature?

    It's relatively easy to start something, and hard to maintain it, unless you have sufficient incentive. This is ubiquitous in software development.
     
  6. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    The challenge as an asset store publisher is unless your asset is very successful it is often not cost effective to maintain them.

    Let me tell some stories of a couple of assets I have abandoned over the years (warning long post incoming):

    ---

    uChess
    https://forum.unity.com/threads/submitted-uchess-unity-chess-engine.188415

    I made a deal with the owner of SharpChess ( https://github.com/PeterHughes/SharpChess ) to release his engine under an asset store license. I added a simple Unity UI in 2D and 3D, added some APIs to control moves and AI, and made some changes to integrate the engine in to Unity. Not a vast amount of work, but tricky for a novice to intermediate programmer. The engine sold for $75 with 30% to Unity and Peter and I splitting the rest equally.

    The asset was selling around 5 copies a month in the early days and tapered off to around 1 per month.

    The issue was that nearly every sale resulted in support questions. The underlying engine wasn't well documented and even with my helper classes the API was hard to understand. Making ~$25 per sale and then spending an hour or two supporting that sale didn't make sense. Add on top of this the work required to keep the engine (which uses unsafe memory access, threads, etc) aligned with all the different Unity platforms, and it was a losing proposition.

    ---

    City Builder Starter Kit
    https://assetstore.unity.com/packages/templates/packs/city-builder-starter-kit-12876

    This was originally a commerical piece of work on which I made a deal with the owner to do the work at a discount but own the engine code myself. The code style is not really inline with C# best-practices, at the time I was buying in to the 'Unity way' maybe a little too much, that said I don't recall any complaints about the code as it was reasonably clean and internally consistent.

    It was selling pretty well at release:

    CBSK.png
    Over time there were a few issues:
    • the first was that there was competition in the market by way of a more polished looking but expensive asset which had battles and multiplayer. Note that this asset turned out to be pretty bad, but it still got a lot of the market share.
    • the second was a few 1 and 2 star ratings which took the rating from 5 to 4 stars. Particularly frustrating as there was no support emails or reviews to tell me why the rating was achived (I expect due to the third problem below)
    • the third issue was a reliance on NGUI. Without NGUI the package wasn't usable (it did include the free embeddable version but this comes with watermarks)
    I eventually hired someone to move from NGUI to Unity UI, but with no presence 'in the charts' (vital at the time) and a four star rating, it wasn't recoverable.

    I let it inger on for a few years, slowly lowering the price, and now its free. Its not compeltely abandoned, if someone asks nicely I still support it, and I'm thinking of doing an update to make sure its error and warning free in 2020.1.

    ---

    Even successful assets can have challenges with support: there are a few Platformer Pro users who have raised over 100 support tickets (generally not bugs) and spending 25+ hours to support a $50 asset sale isn't economical. To sustain this you have to hope that the vast majority of users dont raise any requests.

    ---

    Now you can go in with the expectation that asset store creators are obligated to support you forever, and I can't fault you for the belief, but its not very realistic. If long time support is important for you, then you probably need to stick to active, highly-popular, assets.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
  7. Meltdown

    Meltdown

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    There's two things I do before I buy an asset..

    1.) I look at the last release date, if its more than a year, the asset is most likely abandoned and affects my buying decision.
    2.) If its a more pricey/technical asset that I can see requiring some sort of support, I often contact the support email to gauge the response. No response, no purchase, simple.

    But I think a lot of 'abandoned' assets are authors who don't care anymore, or couldn't be bothered to invest time in the asset anymore, IMO these should be marked as 'deprecated', and sold for a large discount, or even changed to free.
     
  8. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    <Replying to OP>

    The packages were not 'abandoned'. They simply reached the end of what the money you invested in them could pay for. If you invest a finite amount of money into something, simple logic dictates that the investment made by the developer on the basis of that money is also finite.

    I think everyone needs to stop and have a think about the basics of economics. When you release a product into a market where nobody has that product, a lot of buying happens as people get their hands on it. After a while everyone already in the market who wants your product already has it, and then new sales are only made at a rate proportional to the number of new people entering the market (which is a tiny, tiny fraction of the market overall).

    Now the initial sales might be enough to make working on that product financially viable, if it's a good product and it's reasonably popular. After a while though, when your sales are made merely on the basis of a trickle of new Unity customers, virtually every product, no matter how good it is, becomes financially non-viable. In simple terms, a waste of the developer's time, if they want to be reasonably compensated for their work.

    At this point, every self-respecting developer will do one of two things: they will either stop working on the product (and this is what most of them do, often because they are uncomfortable with option 2 and afraid of what might happen) or they find a way to receive compensation from existing customers for new work added to the product. This comes in a variety of forms that are more or less loathed by customers who are unwilling to put themselves in the developer's shoes.

    I know that understanding economics is about as palatable as the vegetables your mom made you eat at the dinner table, but rest assured it will suddenly become quite a rich and interesting subject for you once you decide to release a game with the hopes of making a living from it, or if you create any other product that you want to sell.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2020
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  9. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    I believe he's referring to the assets on the store that are paid but have no one on the other end providing support, and not the assets where the developer has decided to stop providing support while simultaneously making them free or removing them.
     
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  10. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    The OP sounds like they are talking about assets they bought in the past and which since became unusable, perhaps because Unity itself changed. Unless they bought 200 products in this sale. So my understanding was that they are worried that products they buy in this sale won't be supported forever, regardless of being deprecated or not.

    Regardless, I think it's about time that a realistic concept of the economics of the asset store became reinforced.
     
  11. Ryiah

    Ryiah

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    Ah. For some reason I was under the impression you were responding to the post above yours. :p
     
  12. Billy4184

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    Edited for clarity :)
     
  13. warthos3399

    warthos3399

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    Some great answers here, but what about the old "i know what the (insert swear word here) im doing", and take these assets at face value?

    When i look at an asset i think", how updated is it?, (check general reviews, forum, support, etc.) even if its abandoned, does it have what i need? (materials, textures, models), that i can modify for my needs?. Example, there was an asset that had the animations i wanted, but the model, mats, etc. were trash (which i can re-make).

    No matter what, we all do the same thing, we grab whats most possible (for more experienced devs, we look at assets differently), that we can use. We mod, re-create, re-script, re-texture... anything to gain the end result.

    If you know and understand Unity, then you look at the asset store, a bit differently, lol. Theres alot of content thats totally viable, depends on current needs. Regardless of abandoned, or updated, every asset you use, saves a bit of time, "shaving the fat" as we say. And dont forget about the old addage... "the less you use, the more you gain", its about what you can do without, more than what you can do with...
     
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  14. Le_Tai

    Le_Tai

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    Because most publisher make next to nothing. My package is usually in the top 10 of its category Tools/GUI, and I don't make nearly enough to make it a full time job. With the introduction of multiple pipelines, without sufficient documentations, and frequent changes in API, I can barely justify adding support to new pipelines.

    Supporting newer stuffs not only meant more works, but also more support ticket as well, since people not yet used to the new features, and how to integrate third party assets with them.

    The bottom line is, if you want reliable support, don't buy cheap scripting assets. If you can't afford the money, you can always get what you want using your own time and effort instead.
     
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  15. Ne0mega

    Ne0mega

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    I am starting to find I am better off doing it myself, than learning a different programmers way of thinking and coding. I've invested heavily into some Assets, only to find they were a sticky thicket of weeds grown from a central premise that was the core of prototype phase but never got removed during polish phase.

    In the end, you end up reorienting your entire project towards somebody else's work, and keep trying to duct tape and super glue solutions to make the rest of your game work with their asset.

    So I just stick to art, music, sound effects etc now, unless there is a little $5 code pack offering me something useful like noise.

    and if you do not plan on using it right away, popular asset or not, don't buy until you do plan to use it. The further down the road you sit on an asset, the likelier it gets an upgrade fee or gets abandoned.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2020
  16. JohnnyA

    JohnnyA

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    @Ne0mega please correct your quote, I didn't say what you have attributed to me (it was @warthos3399 ).
     
  17. Joe-Censored

    Joe-Censored

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    Selling assets on the store doesn't make much money unless you create one very popular. Most assets on the store aren't all that popular, and Unity makes it a bit of a hassle to submit updates.
     
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  18. cyangamer

    cyangamer

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    I can definitely understand the frustration having some many unsupported assets lying around. I used to run into the same issues myself. I think some people here got it right saying that it really isn't cost effective for the publisher to continue supporting most assets long term. Usually, the ones that can are able to because they have studios supporting their product.

    If I were you, I'd go in assuming these assets have a limited shelf life, especially if it's a code asset (I tend to avoid those now unless they're extremely popular). That keeps the eventual disappointment at a reasonable level, lol

    I'd definitely call it abandonment though. It's just such a common thing in the software world that a lot of people don't call it that.
     
  19. Gamemaster-Audio

    Gamemaster-Audio

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    Yeah it's a real shame if something no longer works! You should at least try and contact the developer to see if they have a solution. But I understand it's a pain if you have so many assets!

    For assets that can work outside of the engine like sound effects they will always be usable. If anyone buys any of our sound effects and can't get it working or has trouble downloading from Unity, etc. Just email us your invoice number and we will give a direct download to the .wav files to use in any version of Unity (or any other software/engine of your choice). Customers always come first and should always have access to products they purchased!
     
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  20. zombiegorilla

    zombiegorilla

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    I used to buy assets in the past when they were on sale, or just looked like they were fun, or in some cases in the "I might use that someday" category. But I have almost completely stopped. Unless I have a direct need and it comes with full source, I just don't anymore. Well, unless they are purely content assets like models or sounds.
     
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  21. Billy4184

    Billy4184

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    My point of view on the asset store has always been that it needs to solve problems, whatever those problems are. If an asset doesn't do that, it's not much use to anyone, regardless of what the balance of investment and reward is for either party. For as long as I'm in the asset store business, my main goal will always be to make things that work in ways that my customers need them to work.

    But while this comes first, immediately after comes "how can I make this work for me?". Because unless both of these sides of the equation are balanced the asset store will fail, as it has failed on many fronts so far (becoming reputed as a dumping ground for half-assed assets with no support). I certainly won't hang around wasting time if this cannot be made to work as a business - I like helping people make their dreams a reality, but I want something in return.

    That's why the idea of continuing to pay for upkeep of assets, rather than doing a one-off payment that locks the developer into some kind of endless obligation of maintenance through Unity's cranking out of new versions and features, must become normalized. The reality is that unless customers pay an absurd up-front cost they will never be paying for the work that goes into an asset over a period of years, and sooner or later that asset will flounder and be left to collect dust while the developer moves on to something else. The asset store will never succeed until customers accept this.

    One more point: a lot of people on the forums here are programmers (it seems to me anyway) and these discussions always tend to end up focusing on the limited utility of asset store products, such as buying them to see how they do X and then rolling your own. That's fair enough - I do the same since I'm a programmer and I prefer to look at my own code and deal with my own bugs - but the reality is that the average asset store customer is quite unlike the seasoned, veteran programmer here on the forums. There are many people out there who want to rely on good products, who want to accelerate the excruciatingly long time it takes to learn how to put together a reasonable quality game, who either don't have the aptitude or interest in programming (they may be extremely good at other areas of game development) and who want something that they don't have to fully understand, yet will not fall apart under them.

    For these people, the asset store has failed so far, in my opinion. And for my assets at least, these are my main customers and the people who I am trying to help succeed. What they need is the option to compensate developers sufficiently, and in return get stability, certainty, support and basically an asset that works all the time within their scope of knowledge. If the asset store can support that, I would be extremely happy to help make it happen.
     
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  22. angrypenguin

    angrypenguin

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    I still buy tools.

    Aside from shaders I don't tend to buy code which will ship with my work. For code that sits in my Editor... well, as long as it works I care a lot less about the quality of that, so if it speeds me up or gives me new capability, yes please!

    But the stuff about being relevant now still stands.
     
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  23. Ne0mega

    Ne0mega

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    Asset Store apples:

    Don't buy them expecting to eat them next year, unless you have a homebrew solution, then you can drink them.

    edit: Johnny Appleseed approves.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2020
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