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Adobe Vs. Unity: The Future Of 3D Web Games
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Adobe Vs. Unity: The Future Of 3D Web Games

January 12, 2011 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

The Unity engine has had particular success in the mobile device space where, Helgason reports, his company is far ahead of the competition.

"We're wildly successful on the iPhone, for instance," he says. "There are over 1000 Unity-based iOS games in the App Store for iPhone and iPad while I don't think any other game tool set -- including Flash -- has more than perhaps 100 or so games. That's because, with those small devices, you really want to be close to the metal and not have a lot of overhead. And Flash has a lot of overhead. There's no telling what share Molehill will get, but we feel we have a pretty big leg up for a while at least."

Helgason was unable to supply data regarding how many developers build with the Unity engine versus Flash, but he says that, when it comes to games, Unity's market share is growing rapidly.

"A very significant number of people use Flash for stuff other than games -- for things like video and website menus and so on. I'd love to know how many people are actually building games with Flash; I don't think anyone has those numbers."

In the meantime, Unity is working on bundling deals similar to the ones Adobe has with computer makers like Dell.

"When a Dell computer comes out, the Flash plug-in is already pre-bundled with it," says Helgason. "We don't have that sort of market power yet. But we're catching up incredibly fast and I think we'll start to see those kinds of bundlings soon, perhaps in the next two years.

"In the meantime, we're looking forward to the Chrome browser adding what the Google techs call Native Client. What that will do is give Unity games the ability to run natively in the browser without a separate plug-in. You can imagine how important that will be to us."

While an Adobe spokesperson acknowledged Unity's success in 3D games, "it needs to be emphasized that 3D in Flash won't just be for gaming. Our soon-to-be-released Flash platform with 3D will have a major impact across the entire Web -- e-commerce, digital marketing, rich Web apps, etc., because of the proliferation of Flash Player which is not considered a plug-in anymore in terms of the end users. To them, it's just there."

At the moment, the 3D Flash platform is in what Adobe is calling a very limited, private beta.

"Our focus has been on the tools and engine providers who are critical on the 3D work flows," says Jennifer Taylor, senior director of product and strategy for gaming solutions at Adobe. "But we're extending our beta now to more of the developer and publisher community, and then we'll be opening up a more public beta in the spring."

Then, when Molehill is released -- in Q2 if on schedule -- the question is what sort of competition will developers see between the Adobe and Unity engines.

"At this point, we're still in the early days when it comes to adding a third dimension to the Web," says Taylor. "Unity has been incredible in terms of delivering these capabilities to the industry. But, with Adobe's base of over three million developers, it's obvious that we bring a different lens to the opportunities around 3D. We will be bringing 3D to the broader Web community, effectively empowering the masses."

And Adobe's goal? To become as game developer-friendly as Unity is perceived to be.

"Obviously, one of the things Unity has done very well is deliver great capabilities in their engine and their tools," observes Taylor. "We haven't announced any specific plans at this point, but you can imagine that Adobe is focused on designers and developers. We're going to be looking to find ways to solve their challenges and to make working with 3D as easy as we've made working with video, with vectors, with all these different content types.

"We are thinking very strategically about ways in which we can reduce the cost and the pain and the challenges for developers so that they can embrace the new capabilities we are adding to the runtime around 3D."

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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