I wanted to ask you about the EA deal. What is the scope of that?
DH: We can't really talk about the exact details, of course. No, the announcement didn't say much. What it is is that EA is really excited about Unity -- I mean, they launched Tiger Woods, and they've been really happy with the product; but also the team loved working with it and felt incredibly productive.
So the top management of EA saw that this was a really good thing for EA, and so they decided to buy kind of a full license. Everything Unity, like all the platforms we support, for everyone inside EA, so every EA person can have any product from Unity.
Of course, not everyone in EA will be using Unity; they have some of their own technology and all of this stuff. But this basically gives them full access to it, and the upper management is really promoting it as a great thing for them.
The quote that they put in -- I know it's a bit bland to point at, but it's actually a good quote because when you draft a press release you always write a default quote for the person that you're hoping to get a quote from and they completely rewrote it, so this is their words and not ours. It's a beautiful thing. It's a nice thing for them to say -- and it's also true!
Quote from the press release: "We have spent a lot of years looking at development assets of all kinds. Unity represents one of the deepest commitments we have ever made. It lets us produce products to our quality expectations, while freeing our creative contributors to explore new ideas, without breaking the bank," said Richard Hilleman, VP chief creative director, Electronic Arts.
TH: He was actually a speaker at part of our Unite conference last year. EA is even recognizing the shift in the games industry that it's less about the sitting at home, playing for three or four hours, and more about catching people at that 15 minutes or 30 minutes before a meeting or a bit on the bus or the train. They're even having to shift some of their mindset for how they're approaching game players.
With Tiger Woods Online, they got that very nice because you can just at any time close the browser window and it's already saved your game state. You don't even have to hit a save button or anything. Go home and log back on, and you're right back to where you were. It's kind of nice that they, too, were seeing the same changes that we solve those kinds of problems right out of the box the way our tool is.
Have you guys given any thought to supporting the Nintendo 3DS?
DH: We've given a good amount of thought to it. We cannot say anything about it; we cannot promise anything, but we are excited about it for sure.
It seems like, at this point, that platform has a lot to offer.
DH: It's a very compelling platform in many ways.
TH: I think we've probably given a lot of thought to that; anything that seems like a viable platform --
DH: (Laughing) Yeah, you could say that about anything.
TH: We talk about everything that comes up, whether we have kind of an idle chatter BS type [email] list or a formal team list amongst the engineers. We've got enough of us around with enough interest that every platform has bubbled up once or twice. But that seems particularly interesting.
DH: It seems very compelling.
Max & the Magic Marker
You already have a relationship with Nintendo because of the Wii.
DH: Yeah, of course. We have quite a lot of experience on the Wii. One thing that I think Nintendo does is that they keep their platform very stable from generation to generation. They keep the APIs very stable and so on, so it's kind of easy to move between their generations. Well, easier than it could be.
There's also discussion of whether Apple will be taking a big bite out of the potential 3DS audience.
DH: Apple has been incredible at upgrading the hardware of the iPhone, something that has been really turning it into a viable gaming platform. I remember the first iteration of the iPhone that supported the App Store, and we were just beating our heads because drivers were really unoptimized. There were just problems with the first release of it. We were like, is this how it's going to be in the future? But they've really got around to optimizing the stuff, so it's really good now. Their OpenGL ES 2 is very, very solid.
It's very clear from Stevenotes and stuff these days that Apple wants games to be a priority for this device -- which they weren't.
DH: We've gone through this for awhile. We remember the Mac days! (Laughs)
I don't think Apple anticipated the App Store being so very game-dominated.
DH: I think it's actually interesting just sort of the external point that two of the most defining platforms right now are maybe Facebook and the iPhone App Store, and both companies are run by guys that really, fundamentally were not interested in games at all. Games just somehow take off on their own.
TH: A grassroots kind of blossom on their own without top-level support.
DH: And they're kind of defining both platforms. It's not entirely true, but also it's not false to say that Facebook was made profitable by games. Games were a huge economic driver on the platform.
Other stuff was important as well, of course; I'm not saying they needed games, but games really made that platform take off and provided a lot of extra, rich, prolonged interaction with Facebook -- which, for us hardcore game guys, seems like very fleeting interaction, but on the Web people spend a lot of time on this stuff.
TH: If you count the number of hours of gameplay not in any one sitting... The numbers of people who sit there playing FarmVille are staggering because they drop in and out for five, 10 minutes at a time.