Unity Gaming Services Launched To Make Life Easier For Devs

Published: October 21, 2021 1:05 PM /


A visual representation of what the new Unity Gaming Services offer

Unity has launched a suite of new tools intended to help developers with analytics, multiplayer features, and other important backend services in their games. Unity Gaming Services include voice chat functionality, netcode, and cloud content delivery, and they're available now via the Unity website.

What do Unity Gaming Services offer?

Per a press release, Unity Gaming Services consist of new tools intended to "simplify any developer's ability to launch cross-platform multiplayer games". The new features are integrated into the Unity Editor, allowing devs to sync their games with Unity's backend and view detailed analytics of how their games are performing. Up to a certain point, Unity Gaming Services are completely free for developers, with pricing tiers being introduced as initial limits are exceeded. For example, the Cloud Save software package is free up to 5GB of stored data, after which Unity charges 50 cents per extra GB. Handily, Unity says features that are in beta, like the netcode feature, will remain free until they're fully released. In an email to us, Unity confirmed that tools like Vivox will be free until developers leave the "indie and mid-market" space, after which point Unity will work with developers to "understand...specific growth needs" on a case-by-case basis.

Unity has also expanded on some of the services it's offering with the Unity Gaming Services package. The company told us this package was introduced to consolidate some of its services, which had "only been offered as standalone" in the past. Software packages like the voice chat protocol Vivox and the multiplayer tool Multiplay had been available via Unity for some time, but Unity Gaming Services offers greater "interoperability and flexibility" to help devs navigate these services. Unity also says it has a large team available to support developers, with a comprehensive "self-serve experience" also available via technical documentation and educational materials provided as part of Unity Gaming Services. The company has confirmed to us that its netcode service will not feature rollback at this time, although it's not clear whether it'll be added at a later date.

The new Unity Gaming Services package is split into four broad categories. Multiplayer tools include the Vivox voice chat system, multiplayer netcode functionality, and the ability to create private and public lobbies. Backend includes cloud saving, in-game economy, and account authentication, while Analytics & Player Engagement lets developers understand who's playing their games and why they might crash from time to time. Finally, there's the Monetization & Growth category, which lets devs manage in-app purchases, ad revenue, and user growth.

Who can access Unity Gaming Services?

Unity says that during the beta period, Unity Gaming Services will be available to all developers for free. You'll be able to access it on mobile platforms and PC (including Linux, Mac, and Windows), but if you're a console developer, you'll need to get an invite to try out the new services. Unity says it'll be making console versions of Unity Gaming Services available "soon", so watch this space for more info on that.

Cuphead, a game that uses the Unity engine
Unity is the most popular engine on Steam, powering games like CupheadHollow Knight, and Ori and the Blind Forest.

The new Unity Gaming Services suite is likely to look pretty enticing to developers. Unity is far and away the most popular game engine on Steam, beating out competitors like Unreal and Game Maker Studio. Adding new ways to manage multiplayer and live-service elements, as well as extra analytical tools, will go down well with the wide range of studios using the engine. It's pretty important for Unity to offer sweeteners like this; with competitors like Epic making the full version of their engine free to use up to a certain revenue point, Unity needs to step its game up to stay relevant.

Despite this, the fact that the services aren't yet widely available on consoles might sting. Earlier this year, Unity made it mandatory to have a Unity Pro license before publishing on Xbox platforms, which hurt a lot of indie developers on Microsoft's consoles. Making these tools available for devs might have gone some way towards healing that wound, but it looks like console devs will have to wait just a bit longer to get their hands on Unity Gaming Services. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.

Will you be checking out Unity Gaming Services? Are you an indie developer looking for an engine for your game? Let us know in the comments below!


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