With the rise of mobile platforms, Unity Engine quickly gained popularity in the market due to its productivity and superior performance compared to rival engines. Its user-friendly interface and seamless workflow seemed almost magical to game developers, and its affordability made it the preferred choice for numerous projects.
However, as time passed and competition intensified, other engines started capitalizing on Unity’s strengths, with Unreal Engine, in particular, re-establishing itself as a formidable contender. Epic Games, the developer behind Unreal Engine, not only creates games with their engine but also strategically enhances its technical capabilities and features to streamline the production process. Unity, on the other hand, is solely a game engine company and doesn’t produce games, which has led to questions about their understanding of the industry they serve.
Unity seemed to hope that their acquisitions would enable their product to expand beyond game development, but it remains uncertain whether the technologies gained through these acquisitions have significantly contributed to improving game development efficiency, which is the core foundation of game engines. For instance, in the case of the acquisition of Weta Digital, how much of their expertise in pre-rendered technology, their specialty, has translated into enhancing Unity’s real-time rendering capabilities, which is its core focus?
Despite this ambitious expansion strategy, Unity’s financial performance has not shown improvement; instead, losses have continued to accumulate. The announcement of Unity Engine’s new pricing policy raised concerns and suspicion among customers, leading existing users to question the engine’s productivity and value. As of September 30, 2023, Unity has introduced an alternative pricing plan with some adjustments, but the reception has been mixed.
Despite these challenges, there is still an opportunity for Unity Engine to reclaim its former prominence. If we can reemphasize the features that originally made it so productive compared to the competition, as we did in the early days, we can regain our footing. For instance, if we can complete quality assurance and release a hyper-casual game within just one week, or if we can conduct significantly more validation through prototyping within the same timeframe compared to rival engines.
If these improvements are not made, the future of Unity Engine is cloudy: high-quality triple-A games, video, and industry will be lost to Unreal, and small and medium-sized game production will be lost to a more Godot engine that has seen a surge in community interest due to the events surrounding this plan. They still have the resources and talented people (despite the high cumulative deficit), and they can weather this storm if they aim well.