Today, Unity announces its acquisition of Helsinki-based, mobile services company Applifier, with plans to integrate its technologies and services directly into the Unity engine.
The buy brings in-game video sharing technology Everyplay and the GameAds video ad network to Unity's stable, to "complement" the Unity Cloud suite
of free cross-promotion services.
In a new interview with Gamasutra, Unity CEO David Helgason says that the next frontier for Unity is helping its developers connect with audiences. "There's two life-or-death challenges" for game creators, Helgason says. One is making games -- which Unity has focused on so far -- and the other is finding an audience.
"We've been working with the 'connecting with an audience' question with the Unity Cloud cross-promotion network," Helgason says. "Of all of the methods we've looked at -- and we've looked at all of them -- the one that by far gets us the most excited, the one you might say is the most authentic and energetic way of connecting with an audience, is Everyplay."
He describes Everyplay's free social video sharing as "a beautiful thing."
Everyplay on Android
"We can overcome the challenge of how developers connect with their audience and how games get discovered," says Jussi Laakkonen, CEO of Applifier.
Everyplay is an attempt "to replicate in digital form the moment when you meet up with a friend and you pull out an iPhone, and say, 'Hey, you have to check this out! This game is wicked -- you've got to play this!'" says Laakkonen. He and his team of 42 will be joining Unity along with the acquisition, with the Applifier HQ forming a new Helsinki office for the tech (and now service) provider, which will move its handful of Finland-based staff to the Applifier site.
While Everyplay has its own social feed on the web and in a mobile app, it also enables one-touch sharing of user-recorded videos to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, which play directly at those locations. "One of our key strategies is that we have wanted our users to take their replays, content, or live-streaming to anywhere they want to," says Laakkonen. "It's up to the user to decide where they want to put it." In the future, the team plans to bring in support for Twitch and also for live-streaming via Everyplay.
Notably, the services will still support non-Unity engines post-acquisition, Laakkonen promises, saying, "We're going to be expanding that coverage in the future."
Thanks to joining Unity, Everyplay's functionality -- currently limited to iOS and Android -- may move beyond mobile and to other platforms the engine supports. "We expect to expand platform coverage where it makes sense, but we're just getting started together... Like everything else we do, it'll largely be driven by developer demand," says Helgason.
The service's functionality improvements are user-led, Laakkonen says. So far, Everyplay has been paying careful attention to "what user patterns evolve" and shaped its service offering to "enforce the good ones" -- a strategy that should escalate as the service hits more and more games once it's part of the Unity package.
For Helgason's part, what attracted him to Everyplay was the strength of its tech: "This is really hardcore technology, and it's an amazing technology solution, being able to record video on mobile without affecting the framerate," he says. Even the most demanding Unity games still play "butter-smooth" with Everyplay. "It fits perfectly with our way thinking of the world," Helgason says.
Right now, Everyplay -- which launched in December 2012
-- is in "a few hundred" titles, but Helgason says that "we think it has a home in thousands of games, or tens of thousands of games -- or more." He compares in-game video-sharing to sports "after the invention of the instant replay," a potentially transformative moment for the popularity of the medium.
"15 years ago, the biggest single audience you could advertise to was U.S. prime time television... Now, through the App Store, you can get to 2 billion people completely frictionlessly," says Helgason. "The opportunity is gigantic, and the audience is growing to 4 billion people in just a few years."
"Nobody can address that with one single advertising campaign," he says. "So it's important that your product can be found and shared with fans."