Invalid Unity license problem

by | Nov 6, 2019 | Tech, Unity3d

It started as a normal day

I have a story I want to share with you, could help if you’ll find yourself in a similar situation. A month or so ago I had to hop on to Unity to check some work we’ve completed and it showed me the most unexpected, invalid license related problem.

Invalid license?

I use unity via the Hub; their convenient launcher for managing installations and projects. On this day though, it greeted me with a message to enter my license details. I found it unusual but in our line of work tokens expire all the time. I entered my details.

Unity Hub license manager activation

From then on any project I tried to open caused the editor to simply shut down without displaying any errors. I tried to create a new project. It started up fine, however the editor was in “free” mode which was weird as I have a pro license for it.

In the Hub the license page showed disabled controls and indefinitely animating progress bar. I thought it was a network connectivity issue. I checked our connection to the Unity services but it was all fine. The Hub was configured to communicate through the firewall and act as a server on the local network as well.

I then contacted Unity support but while waiting for their response I started digging around.

Attempts at problem solving

The Hub showed I had an active, valid license and its last update was a a while ago but it should be OK.

I then tried to automatically activate the license but then I got an error saying my license key was not valid. I then went for the manual option. Saved the licence request file-thing. Uploaded it to the website, entered the licence key and I got an error saying “serial has reached the maximum number of activations.” This was weird as the license allows for activation on two computers and I only had two associated with my account. My desktop and the laptop I was trying to work on.

Unity Hub license manager error

Solved it!

I verified that the key and the machine names were correct. I decided to remove and re-add my laptop just in case.

It worked! Simply removing the seat and re-adding the key sorted the problem.

The cause

It turns out hat a license is associated with a machine using various bits of information about the machine and the OS. One part of this meta data is the edition of the OS running on the machine. As I previously upgraded Windows home to pro; which I completely forgot about, made this bit different and suddenly my license wasn’t valid. Unity support later confirmed this.

What thew me off was the messaging around the problem wasn’t clear. Luckily after poking around for some time I managed to solve it. Unity support also confirmed they will look into improving the messaging around such cases in the hub.

Do you have any stories about Unity licensing? Let me know in the comments below.

Excerpt imageis by Inzmam Khan from Pexels.

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