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Adobe announces Unity partnership, charging for 'premium features'
Adobe announces Unity partnership, charging for 'premium features'
March 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

March 28, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing, Programming

In an effort to further align its business with the game development community, Adobe has revealed an official partnership with engine provider Unity Technologies, as well as some new gaming-focused features for its Flash and AIR products.

With this new partnership, Adobe and Unity will work together to help existing Unity customers target Flash within their existing workflow. Unity added Flash support on its own late last year, but Adobe says that its participation will make the interaction between the two platforms all the more fluid.

"We weren't working with [Unity] when they added Flash support, but this new partnership means that all Unity content will work when exported to Flash Player," Adobe's Diana Helander told Gamasutra.

She added that the Unity deal marks first in a series of future partnerships tailored to game developers. She did not provide any specifics, but promised that Adobe wants to support gaming initiatives across the web, mobile devices, and beyond.

"When it comes to games, we've seen some huge growth in social and casual gaming. We also saw that the market was pushing toward launching content on mobile, so we're looking to capitalize on the opportunity on mobile, and really, on any screen," she said.

Alongside the Unity partnership, Adobe also debuted the final versions of Flash Player 11.2 and Adobe AIR 3.2, adding some new features targeted specifically at game developers.

The first of which, available as a "premium feature" with special usage requirements, allows developers to use hardware-acceleration via Stage3D alongside with fast memory op codes, enabling more graphically intensive 3D experiences within Flash.

Adobe also mentioned that this premium feature would benefit C/C++ developers, as they can now more easily release their high-end 3D games via Adobe's platform.

[UPDATE: Adobe has now revealed that developers who utilize these premium features in a commercial game will be required to give 9 percent of revenues from their game beyond $50,000 total to the company.

"There is no charge to use premium features in applications that generate less than $50,000 in application revenue," it said. "Net revenue is calculated as revenue after taxes, payment processing fees, and social network platform fees are subtracted."

Abobe also noted that developers will not be charged royalty fees if they use the op codes alone, or the hardware accelerated Stage3D features alone. Developers only liable to incur additional fees if they use these features in combination within Flash -- and those features are available via AIR royalty free. Developers using non-hardware accelerated rendering in Stage3D are also not required to pay additional fees.

The new terms of service will go into effect August 1, and Adobe predicts that most content will not require the premium feature.]

"[The premium feature] will enable an expanded workflow for game developers. Non-Flash developers that are using C/C++ can cross-compile their content for delivery via the Flash Player, and thereby benefit from the reach of Flash," said Helander. "We want it to broaden monetization opportunity on the web."

In addition, Adobe also added to Flash and AIR some additional standard features such as support for mouse-lock, hardware-accelerated 2D/3D graphics with multi-threaded video decoding, and more. Helander added that Adobe plans to introduce some game analytics and revenue tools in its future updates.

For more information on the new features available in Flash 11.2 or AIR 3.2, visit Adobe's official website.

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Jeff Weber
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And here is the rub:

"The premium features are priced to encourage use and experimentation, and there will be no charge for premium feature use up to the first $50K in per application revenues, and 9% revenue share on Flash Player related application revenues that exceed the threshold of $50K. Revenue share will be calculated based on gross revenues received by the Developer or Publisher from an application, including application sales, in-app purchases, subscription fees, sponsorship, advertising fees received for advertising in, or related to, the application, less actual payment processing fees (e.g. PayPal, credit card fees), any applicable taxes (e.g. VAT) and Facebook network or other social network platform fees."

-Jeff Weber

Lars Doucet
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ARRRRRG. Dammit, Adobe. I'm usually the first to defend flash but this makes me want to jump ship.

FastSpring/Plimus/BMT Micro takes 7-9%, Apple takes 30%, Facebook takes 30%, Kongregate takes 30%, Steam takes something like 30% according to most sources, and now Adobe's going take 9%?

Too many nibbles at the cake for me. One or two is tolerable, but three is one too many.

Ben Colwell
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I agree with your sentiment about too many nibbles (getting only 70% from your hard work is tough to swallow), but let's not be too quick to hate on Adobe in this case. I actually read the info on Adobe's page, and here's an interesting bit:

"Games and applications using either hardware accelerated Stage3D or domain memory individually do NOT require a premium features license. For example, Flash game developers can independently leverage high-performance Stage3D hardware acceleration in Flash Player which delivers full GPU-accelerated experiences to more users than any other web technology at no charge."

So it seems that only developers using both Stage3D AND domain memory (via C/C++ in Alchemy) will be subject to the 9%, end even then only after making some money. So for the majority of people out there using Stage3D, there is no charge.

Personally I'm disappointed that the article didn't include this information... either the author didn't read up on it enough, or decided to deliver it in a way that makes Adobe look like they're greedy-- which I don't think is the case here.

The relevant info is here:

Tom Curtis
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Thanks for pointing that out. We've since updated the article to reflect the terms and restrictions.

Mike Motschy
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@Lars I totally agree though at least Apple is offering something, a storefront, and they handle all the transactions. What is Adobe offering? A new feature that uses hardware accelerated rendering, shouldn't that be.. umm... evolution of their product? "Hey we made our product run faster, lets make them pay a royalty to use it!" Doesn't make sense.

kP09 HI19
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Wondering if Zynga, and other social gaming companies, will start using Unity web player instead of the Adobe one and save 9%, because they will be the ones affected with this news.

scott anderson
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They'd love to, but Zynga, and social gaming companies need lots of users to support their current business model and Unity web player installs are low. The push for 3D gaming in Flash is driven by the fact that no one installs plugins, that WebGL isn't ready for wide spread use, and that Native Client is Chrome only. In an ideal world everyone would be able to ship their game as a custom plugin (Quake Live style) and people would install them.

Maximilian Herkender
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Are you forgetting HTML5? It has it's own headaches, but none of those headaches involve taking 9% of revenue.

Tom Baird
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But the 9% only applies to 'Premium Features', which is Hardware-accelerated 3D, currently. If that is in your project requirements, HTML5 is not an option, since it doesn't have any Hardware-accelerated 3D support.

Miha z
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@ Tom @Maximilian
The 9% applies to Hardware-accelerated 3D/2D AND Alchemy. Using only Hardware-accelerated 3D/2D there are no fees.

Mike Motschy
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@scott I'm sure if Zynga released a Unity game you would see lots more installs of the plugin. It's super quick and fast, very easy to do. The only part I could see it not working, is maybe on your office computers, where flash is needed and unity isn't.

Andrew Grapsas
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Wow. 9%.

No. People just won't use the premium features. Adobe's business people really, really don't understand this game.

Just use HaXe and compile to AS3, C++, etc. instead. It's free.

Mike Kasprzak
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This affects HaXe too.

James Hofmann
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Partial agreement with both Mike and Andrew.

As an ecosystem we(Haxe users) aren't big/mature enough to completely shrug off platform changes; the compiler tech is state-of-the-art, but missing library support is always keeping us behind the curve, though at a decreasing rate as the community gets bigger.

The good news is, if you weren't planning on exploiting this tech, you aren't affected. And if you can contrive a way to only use half of it(either the fast memory or Stage3D) you still aren't affected. So it's a blessing in disguise for Haxe, because it drives more developers to hedge their platform bets instead of going all-in on Flash 11 - which leads them to Haxe, and an open-source ecosystem. Good for everyone, even if they aren't Haxe devs.

Nikos Chatzigeorgiadis
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Adobe is clearly sinking and is trying to grab even the 9% from the developers. That is a shamefull thing you are saying Adobe. Shame on you!

Nathaniel Marlow
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I somehow doubt Adobe is actually sinking.

Chris Hendricks
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Yeah, Photoshop is still pretty huge, last I'd heard.

Marc Schaerer
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Adobe is sinking, their only 3 things that don't sink like stones are Photoshop, Premiere and Illustrator. Its a matter of time for them to finally realize this.

Even lightroom is sinking, they are getting more competent and significantly more user focused competition on every side which in addition also offer their products for lower, more general user (ie not business only) affordable prices.

I'm normally not against royality shares, devs deserve to earn something. But for a royality share I expect to get something and just being able to use 2 functions of the runtime is not an acceptable offering. They can come up with 9% if they offer a complete professional 3D IDE and workflow, at the time even their 2D tools are a bad joke and they don't even have 3D ones, that justifies for ~0.0000000% shares

Nathaniel Marlow
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What? Mind sharing whatever secret info you're privy to that points towards every Adobe product except Photoshop, Premiere and Illustrator "sinking like stones"?

Hays Clark
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I'm pretty sure Adobe is shameless, it was Macromedia that had integrity. They took the check and ran. :)

Cody Scott
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If Mari was more reasonably priced Photoshop woud not even be used in game development anymore.

Mike Griffin
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Lower it to 5% / 100k sales post-tax/fees. At least encourage developers to shoot for bigger sales, great from a marketing standpoint for Adobe, and speeds propagation of their platforms. At 9% on 50k, there's too much risk and pre-established loss in the equation. It's going to spook studios.

Ed Macauley
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What happened to "flash is dead"? And 9%? That's highway robbery.

Greyson Purcell
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I don't want to lose 9% any more then the next developer, but can anyone honestly blame Adobe? If I was to use Unity or UDK to make a game, I don't have to give Adobe a cent for Flash Authoring or Flash Builder. But I absolutely want to use their free plugin to view this, right? If every developer migrated to one of these 3rd party tools, how is Adobe expected to make money? What kind of business model would that be for them?

The 9% is essentially a tax on middle-ware solutions. This is the first time that Adobe has fully blessed non-Adobe tools for content creation (yes), and this is how they ensure Flash is profitable and that continued development of Flash Player is justified. Personally, I'm excited that they've come up with a financial situation which allows this, and I can't wait to see what tools start coming our way.

Chris Melby
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Interesting times ahead. I hope that AIR stays royalty fee, but I'm guessing that Adobe is leaving it alone so as to not detour developers from targeting it.

Anyways, this doesn't effect my plans at the moment as I'm primarily targeting AIR mobile for my own personal projects; as it's turned out to be a truly viable option for what I like.

I'll be honest, I'd be happy to have to pay Adobe a 9% fee for an online game I created -- at least at first, because that means I'm finally making money on something that's not slathered in stale-corporate-vomit; which has slowly taken the life out of me and replaced it with a curmudgeon.

Andrew Sega
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Seriously, what are the odds that you will need to use both Stage3D *and* Alchemy? C++ is just a speed luxury, write your game in AS3 and you're good to go, no royalties...

Craig Timpany
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It's hard to see how this is practical. It's not an app store, the revenue never went through Adobe. Do they want every Unity dev exporting to SWF to open their books, on the off chance they made more than $50K? They're a bit more numerous than console devs!

Looks like I'll be seeing a lot of flash games with the 'unlicensed' watermark on them.

Hays Clark
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Adobe... no one wants your game analytics and revenue tools in its future updates. Actually get feedback from Developers that use the platform. That feature list is crap.

john bonachon
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Let's say Kongregate, Kongreate are no a developer but a distributor, they "sell" games that other people uses and pays a percent for developers.

should Kongregate pays 9% for the games that uses acceleration?. I don't think so.

Then, let's say that exist a developer that sell their products in Kongregate called "X". X sell $100k in a game that use acceleration, so he should pay $9k for Adobe. But, what will happen if X developer a game but they don't sell it. Instead, they sell to a paper company called "Y", Y is a man in the middle. Then, the new model is Kongregate distribute Y game, Y distribute X game but Y ask 99% of the earning to X, so X instead of earn $100K, they earn $1k, hence they are not oblige to pay Adobe. And of course, Y earn $99k and Y could be formed by the same guys that work in X.

john bonachon
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Another turnaround is to sell a game spitted in different chapters. Let's say that exists a game called "Mario Word Flash" that cost $10 and earn $50k, so the developer could sell instead "Mario Bros Episode 1" to "Mario Bros Episode 10" for $1 each and still earn $50k, but earning $5k x game, enough low to not to pay any penny to Adobe.