For some, the mere mention of Unity and its game engine instantly conjures up independent development. But while the tool set of choice remains for many indies around the world, Unity has quietly grown far beyond video game creation.
In fact, in its latest quarterly financial report, Create Solutions – the division that manages the engine itself – generated revenue of $ 72.4 million, which is only 26% of the company’s overall profits at the time. during the three month period.
Unity’s other division – Operate Solutions, which manages Unity ads, in-app purchases, and other monetization tools – is also largely driven by gaming customers, but the company said it continues to “increase dynamics in non-gaming industries “. with its services used by everything from automakers and consumer brands to the environmental non-profit organization The Nature Conservancy.
This is of course part of Unity’s growth plan for its future. Long established as one of the two dominant game engines available to developers, it is looking to expand into other areas just like rival Epic Games. As it prepared for last year’s IPO, Unity claimed it was facing a $ 29 billion market opportunity in video games and other industries.
Talk to JeuxIndustrie.biz, vice president of product management, Felix The, says it’s not a sudden change. The interest of non-gaming companies in Unity has grown steadily over the years, and he observes that, when you take a closer look, most of the technologies and services developed by Unity are already largely agnostic in nature. regarding the verticals they serve.
“We have significant spending on advertising outside of video games,” he offers us as an example. “Analytics, back-end, publishing, voice, content delivery, streaming – not all of these technologies have the innate exclusivity that they only work in video games. Furioos, for example, is our streaming technology. The majority of Furioos customers actually come from outside of video games. Content delivery is just the delivery of content where we can actually allow you to access your content anywhere on planet Earth. It will work whether you are into video games or not.
“So a lot of our technology was designed to actually exist for video games and outdoors. It turns out that the heart of Unity, the heart and soul of this company from the start, was in video games. So there’s one generality where we make technology work for video games, but it just happens to work elsewhere as well. “
He adds, “Word processing software is not designed for a certain industry. It’s just a great word processor. Real-time 3D also behaves the same. It’s a great real-time 3D solution. If the world is becoming more and more 3D in real time, what Unity also offers is the element of collaboration. These items tend to be industry independent in nature, such as a word processor. If the act of creation is done in a way where people who want to create real-time 3D in any aspect, in any industry, is made possible and easy, this is where people find that this is a solution they will flock to. “
“Word processing software is not designed for a certain industry. It’s just a great word processor. Real-time 3D also behaves in a similar way ”
Félix Le, Unit
A similar crossover can be seen in the most recent acquisitions of Unity. Ralph Huawert, senior vice president of R&D at Unity, points out that both SpeedTree (which generates virtual vegetation) and Pixyz Software (a company whose 3D data optimization tools are commonly used by car manufacturers, appliances and even buildings) have applications in “just about every market we see using Unity today.”
“When you next look at the human input required to create a great [game] world, build a thousand trees of the same variation that you would have to do by hand rather than being able to carve a forest that has physics and is interactive, this is it [SpeedTree’s] the acquisition really makes sense to us, “he says.” But that applies to an architect who needs to visualize in real time a new building with trees in front of him, who just wants a tree to be there and don’t really want to worry about [creating it].
“The same goes for Pixyz. Being able to get real-time visualization at a loyalty level where the customer can actually look at it and say, “Okay, now I understand what you mean and what that sounds like”. But also, to have this scale the size of a big world. These are the things we focus on. This allows us to bring specially designed tool suites to creators so they can create worlds on this scale. “
The challenge, then, must be for Unity to remain agnostic. Its titular engine is an ever-evolving suite of tools, and although many are developed with the needs of game developers in mind across a variety of disciplines – programmers, artists, animators, etc. for the features and functionality specific to those other industries it has attracted.
Huawert assures that this is always in mind when expanding Unity, and the fact that so many companies are able to create their own customizations and extensions for the engine, tailoring it to their needs, helps. also in this regard.
“We’re trying to provide an extensible set of tools that you can build on,” he says, “so that when you’re not in that one of the distinct use cases we’re looking for, that we support, you can always extend the base platform to be able to do it, and we see many customers doing it successfully. “
The games remain the “heart and soul” of Unity, however, as the duo repeated over and over during our conversation. This is, after all, the industry in which the company got its start and has (so far) had the most impact. Huawert adds that as video games evolve, the industry expands, and boundaries blur with other sectors, Unity will continue to adapt to serve both its creators and their audiences.
“There are more people finding access to devices, but also access to the games themselves, with much more varied types of games,” he says. “We are part of this revolution. But this other revolution, allowing all creators to bring their vision to life… making real-time 3D for games is now showing value for just about every industry.
“If we are talking about reducing render times for an animation, or if we are considering a real-time visualization of the product configurators … it’s not that we went looking for this market, it’s that these markets us have found and now we’re getting serious about how we actually support them pretty deeply. “
And Huawert says Unity is preparing for the “next coming revolution.” Video games are no longer specific to traditional devices like consoles and PCs, and mobile has long established itself as a crucial market for the industry. In recent years, the walls between the three spaces have come down or have been lowered entirely – the Unity duo highlight engine support for cross-platform games, as perhaps most famously demonstrated by the multi-billion hit. Genshin Impact dollars.
Then there are the new types of games made possible by smart devices and the untapped potential of technology such as augmented reality. Games still have a lot of room to develop, and so does Unity.
“It has become so much more or you can play and How? ‘Or’ What you play gameplay, ”concludes Huawert. “But then also, what defines what a game is? So if you look at things like Pokémon Go, we would all agree that it’s a game. But it’s a location-driven experience that you can share with others on your missions. . And I think the analogies of that in a future where we can all look at the world almost through this permanence of digital overlays, this real-time 3D everywhere, whether it’s on a 2D screen or a set of VR glasses, is it the material expansion of an audience that will play new experiences everywhere.
“And Unity has always been there to fuel that, to fuel the new experience created by a wonderful creator who came up with this idea of this new way of creating experiences.”