The Unity 3 Interview
October 11, 2010 Page 4 of 7
You've had a pretty good relationship with Apple, it seems. Well, I don't know if you do actually have a relationship with Apple.
DH: We have a relationship with Apple. It's been stressful since... There were those five months when they were not openly saying whether Unity would be okay or not.
That's what I was curious about because Adobe -- obviously, there was a lot of kerfluffle there. Unity was kind of quietly sailing along with no obvious issues. You could infer that there might be a problem, but nothing happened.
DH: Sure. And we explicitly stated during that time that we could not promise people they would be okay. We couldn't! If we could have, we would have, of course. We always had a feeling that we would be fine, and Apple did not give us exact details on that, either. If they had, we would have told people.
Apple doesn't seem big on exact details.
DH: No. When we did the final announcement that we were fine -- Apple had, of course, made the public statement, but also they called us -- what we said was, "We feel that Apple was actually never quite certain but was really thinking about it in a very deep, thoughtful way, and they came to this conclusion that we feel is the right conclusion, obviously -- and that I think for the game industry for sure is the right decision." So we were frustrated but never angry, because we understood their soul-searching.
TH: And I think underlying it they had a few concerns that were related to quality of content, stability, and whatnot. I think, for ourselves, we recognized pretty quickly that, with the number of Unity author titles that sat at the top of the list, we were kind of comfortable and okay there.
DH: Top-selling games just time and time again.
TH: Yeah. And they had one valid point that I think we've been able to address:as they put out new hardware features, they don't want to be slave to some middleware that's going to take some number of months to adopt the new hardware.
So we immediately took the one feature that was pro-only, the ability to add custom native code that you add in -- formerly, it was a pro-only feature, so only those that had paid for the full ticket -- we pretty quickly made the move and said, "Hey, as of our 3.0 release, we're going to put that in both of our licenses." So that, okay, fair enough; that seems like a valid concern, and that's the one area...
DH: When Apple put up the Game Center, people with the cheap version can also access that.
TH: So every developer doing iPhone work with Unity can tap into the new hardware features. I think that was the only part where it seemed to me that, fair enough, I could see why that might be a concern with middleware; we pretty quickly put out an announcement that said, "Hey, we're going to put that into both of our releases." I think that's what gave us that inner confidence, but until you get that extra note that says, "Yeah, we're gonna be okay..." We had to wait it out for some number of months.
DH: And it's too bad because a lot of people just kept making games with Unity, and they were fine -- Apple never declined one single application -- but there were companies, especially larger, bigger-funded projects, that were holding off just because they didn't want to risk their investment. It sort of created this kind of FUD layer. That was annoying.
At this point, would you say that iOS development is your primary audience for Unity?
DH: No; it's a minority part of our business. If you count in dollars, it's a minority part; if you count in number of users, it's a small minority part because the free version doesn't do iOS, and the free version has so many users. So on both counts, it's a minority -- it's a very important minority, of course.
And now, we're sort of soft-launching Android in that you can buy our Android product and can use it, but it's still under development and being optimized and so on. We're still testing more and more devices, but we're not testing on all Android devices yet. Android has kind of immediately jumped up to be significant part of our business, as well, because even in prerelease people were hungry for it. They want to try this new platform, and I think it's also that people want to be early in on the Android.
TH: Yep, because it's still waiting for quality game development to really hit the streets hard and heavy, and I think a lot of people are looking to us as the middleware tool that can hopefully change the perspective about gaming on Android. I've got my Android phone, and I've been a little bit disappointed at the range of games I've seen compared to what has been out on iPhone or iOS in general. So I think people are really looking at this as the in-early opportunity.
DH: So definitely we think those two mobile platforms we support are very important for us, especially going forward; I think they are not going to get smaller. Our background, where we started, is really the web, and that's still very, very strong for us.
TH: Quietly, the background of our web, the monthly download numbers, games popping up, non-game content showing up like Visible Body, which is like a medical visualization app -- things like this just quietly keep churning in the background and driving lots of business in downloads.
Where I think the iPhone stands out as just a little bit larger than it maybe actually is is that it's generated a lot of noise and brought us a lot of attention because we were in fairly quickly and at a high level. It brought us a lot of eyeballs and attention once we released it, and that's been a fabulous thing; but desktop content, web content...
DH: We've been on the iPhone pretty much exactly two years now.
TH: Yeah. It was October of '08 that we released that at our Unite conference. So everything he said is spot-on, but the Web stuff in the background has kept churning, and there's just so much: Quick Hit, NFL does not license their brands for online content very often, and there's a 2D version in Flash and now a 3D one in Unity that's branded, licensed NFL content. Things like that keep coming up. Tiger Woods Online.
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