Unity Technologies, which makes one of the most popular game development tools in the world, recently announced a strategic partnership with Facebook, the largest social media platform in the world. With a new streamlining tool in the upcoming version of Unity (5.4), developers will have new ways to reach and engage with an audience of over 650 million gamers by publishing games directly to Facebook. Additionally, they’ll have access to the new Facebook PC gaming platform that is currently in development with Unity.
A Unity spokesperson spoke with [a]listdaily about how the new streamlined process will help developers access this massive channel for discovery and monetization.
When asked about how the partnership was started, Unity stated that: “We’ve had a longstanding relationship but this is the first formal strategic partnership. Making sure our developers have access to the most relevant platforms is core to our principles of solving hard problems and enabling success. With its massive audience, Facebook presents an exciting opportunity for developers.
“Facebook.com has always been one of the platforms that Unity developers publish their games on (take a look back at the Facebook Unity SDK). With this alliance, Unity and Facebook are now working closely together to introduce a new export functionality within the Unity Editor for developers to easily export their games on Facebook, including to a brand-new Facebook PC gaming platform currently in development. Initial access is limited to a select group of developers building in Unity version 5.4.”
The new Facebook PC gaming platform is still under development, so Unity was unable to discuss how it would help developers with discoverability and whether or not the platform would support VR games, given how Facebook owns Oculus VR. However, Unity did state that, “the streamlined development and exporting functionality will make it much easier for developers to publish to Facebook.”
Although the gaming platform will be focused directly on players on PC, it is not being built to be in competition with existing video game services such as Steam. “The new Facebook PC gaming platform is still very early in development, and Facebook is not in competition with other game services,” said the Unity spokesperson. “Facebook is bringing new and exciting games from both web and mobile, and across many different genres. Unity is excited to add Facebook’s new PC gaming platform, as it will add to our to our list of more than 25 supported platforms, furthering our approach of allowing developers to ‘author once, deploy everywhere.'”
Given Facebook’s massive audience, we asked Unity what the most exciting part of building a new gaming platform was. “The PC market is still a big business, with free-to-play and social games becoming increasingly important segments,” said Unity. “With this partnership, Unity developers will be able to easily reach the more than 650 million gamers already playing Facebook-connected games every month. In fact, the export functionality that we will build into the engine will allow developers building in Unity 5.4 to push their games onto Facebook with little-to-no code changes from directly within the Unity editor.
“For developers who hadn’t considered Facebook or PC as a target platform, or want to expand their existing platforms, the ability to unlock additional business opportunities by going cross-platform onto a new PC gaming platform offers a huge upside with very little effort. It’s exciting to think they will now have the chance to participate in the Facebook platform, an ecosystem that paid out over $2.5 billion to just web-game developers in 2015 alone.”
The partnership with Unity is the latest and perhaps one of the biggest moves by Facebook to strengthen its engagement with the gaming community. In June, the social media giant announced a partnership with Blizzard to include Facebook Login and Facebook’s API into all its games, including blockbusters such as Overwatch, World of Warcraft, and Hearthstone. Later that month, Facebook hired former pro gamer Stephen “Snoopeh” Ellis as the company’s first eSports strategic partnerships manager, tasked with helping to grow eSports content on its video streaming platform.