Unity Technologies returned to Los Angeles for its second conference in eight months to announce another round of partnerships for their development platform, this time with the likes of Facebook, Google and Nintendo, among others, to increase their reach across mobile, console as well as virtual and augmented reality gaming.
Facebook, who previously procured a partnership with Unity in August that enabled creators using the platform’s game-making engine to publish on the social network, revealed its new dedicated PC gaming platform in Facebook Gameroom and announced open beta access of their export-to-Facebook feature in Unity Editor to all Unity developers.
Google, who was one of the several dozen exhibitors at the Loews Hollywood Hotel, took the Unite LA stage to announce a Nov. 10 street date for Google Daydream. Google also announced that the Daydream Home storefront will feature the ability to promote deep-linked content for easier discovery of new apps and new experiences in the existing product.
Nintendo’s first game made specifically for smartphones—Super Mario Run—was made possible with Unity’s to engine and development tool. It’s due for a December release. That relationship will further be cemented down the line with Unity’s support of the Nintendo Switch leading up to its March 2017 launch.
Unity, who enjoyed nearly 5 billion downloads of Made with Unity mobile games in Q3 alone, continued to keep VR and AR to its core principles by revealing numerous updates and features to support creators in their respective spaces, including: a completely new video player; a new version of its EditorVR authoring tool; open beta for Unity Connect, a talent marketplace dedicated to Unity enthusiasts, game developers and VR/AR creators; a native integration for AR platform Vuforia to support and accelerate new content creation.
[a]listdaily sat down with Clive Downie, Unity’s chief marketing officer responsible for global strategies and tactics in customer marketing, product marketing and e-commerce, to discuss their latest announcements.
What is the strategy Unity used while forming the partnerships with Facebook, Nintendo and Google? What direction are you headed in now?
We have a stated principle that we like to remind the world anytime we have the stage—and it’s one of our three stated principles in democratizing development. What you see is us bringing developers who choose to make things on Unity out to the widest possible audience. What you’re seeing is additional ways to bring Unity developers to new people.
Earlier this year, Unity and Facebook teamed up to support game developers. What does it mean for developers to have access to this new PC platform?
The distribution power of Facebook is unmatched. Their ability to put games in front of the right people at the right time is a powerful thing. They have a very large-scaled audience and that gives them an opportunity to have a broad cross section of gaming fans. That’s a really exciting thing for Unity developers to tap into. Not just that scale, but imagine the data Facebook has around ‘interest’ and ‘social groups’ to match people up with the right games. It’s just another exciting distribution channel.
How will the Facebook PC platform differ from the likes of Steam?
Steam is very good at doing certain things. It has a specific customer base. They have their early access program, which has had a lot of success among gamers and game makers alike. It allows game makers to put their earlier versions of the product in front of groups of people in order to get feedback. In a world where you want to make your product better, that program is very important, and is a powerful thing. What Facebook gives is reach and a level of targeting that only Facebook can provide. Both of them are complimentary in the ecosystem of PC gaming. Choice is good.
You previously used influencers to help share the Unity story. What have you learned from your campaigns?
We created Made With Unity as a sub-brand to allow us to bring stories to life of great creators making great things. What we want to do is raise the profile of people who are choosing to use Unity. We’ll work with them to bring their stories to life in marketing materials. In doing so, we allow people who might be researching, or wavering, to identify with us better. The Outsiders is a perfect example of this initiative.
Earlier this month Unity announced that it was bringing its VR/AR summit to Beijing. How is the Chinese market impacting VR? And how do you see it growing?
The Chinese market impacting VR is really no different from how they impact other consumer products and industries. The Chinese market is consuming VR in ever-increasing numbers. The appetite is large in the country. You’re seeing major announcements about VR gaming centers to the tunes of tens and thousands. HTC also recently announced a big investment cycle there around bringing VR to thousands of city centers. Also, local manufacturers in China are already creating mobile VR headsets. When you think about Unity’s desire to open new markets for developers who are using our platform, we’re very excited about that opportunity.
Has Unity seen a huge uptick in VR development now that all three of the major headsets are on the market?
I don’t have specific data, but there are ever-increasing numbers of developers creating AR and VR products. It’s only accelerating.
Unity is responsible for countless titles. Are you considering making games yourself in the future? Is there a plan to self-publish one day?
No. We are not a game developer, nor are we an app store. We’re very happy focusing on making great products and tools for people to make great things. Our focus has always been on making it a tool. That’s what we do, and that’s what we specialize in. We are humbled that people choose to use Unity, and agnostic as a company enough to broker great deals with people. Thirty percent of mobile games in the world—and growing—use Unity, and 70 percent of VR creators use Unity. If you add Unity spending time, effort and money making games to that mix, you have to ask ‘why would we do that?’ We leave it to the experts in making games.
What is the message behind the Unity Connect talent marketplace all about?
We’re fortunate enough to have a large number of developers use Unity globally. A couple of truths persist in that ecosystem. In the indie world, people are not good at everything. You might be a great coder, but not a good artist. Rather than having to forge forward with sub-optimal stuff, you can browse through the Unity community to see if others are available for micro-jobs. Imagine browsing through hundreds of people’s projects and going, ‘yeah, I want you to work on my project.’ It’s a great way to create jobs and connect people with others who are better than you in certain disciplines.
How do you make Unity stand out from a consumer-facing standpoint? Where do you see yourselves from that lens?
Consumers aren’t our market. That being said, we do think there is a job to be done around marketing the discovery of great games. That might move us more into a consumer-facing place. When we think about our role, one of them is enabling success for our developers. One of the key areas to enable success, and one that no one is doing, is to solve discovery. As we start to deliver against that more, we might have more of a presence in the consumer world.
How do you envision the VR market developing moving forward?
We strongly believe that sometime between now and 10 years from now, a billion people a day will tune into some form of VR activity. VR radically changes how you use your time. It makes your life better. That’s a true statement. Next year, we’ll continue answering ‘what’s VR going to be used for? How is it going to make life better?’ It’s going to be another year of solving problems and asking the questions. I’ll tell you now—game’s will be a component of what people will do in VR, but VR is going to have a part to play in education, healthcare, design, travel, retail and other verticals. VR has something for everyone, and it’s found its place in the consumer ecosystem.
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