Unity, the global game engine and monetizationplatform, said that its Unity 6 platform will launch in 2024 with AI innovations and platform updates.
The company for crafting and nurturing real-time 3D content unveiled an array of cutting-edge AI innovations and platform upgrades at its annual developer conference, Unite. These introductions are designed to augment the means by which game developers materialize their visions and manage successful games.
The highlights of the Unite conference include the early access availability of Unity Muse – an AI-powered suite aimed at streamlining content creation, a sneak peek at Unity 6 — the impending major software release anticipated for 2024 — and the introduction of Unity Cloud, a range of interconnected products and services to aid developers in streamlining content across projects and pipelines, said Marc Whitten, president of Unity Create, in an interview with GamesBeat.
Whitten said it’s an important conference, as it’s Unity’s first chance to make peace with game developers after many were ready to go to war against the company just weeks ago after Unity announced an unexpected price increase based on numbers of downloads. After an outcry from game developers, Unity backed down and gave more attractive options — and Unity CEO John Riccitiello resigned. He was replaced by former Red Hat CEO James M. Whitehurst as interim CEO and president.
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New runtime fee
Regarding the pricing change, Whitten said, “I think people are tired of hearing from me right now. My goal with the keynote was to get the people from our core engineering team showcasing the technology.”
On September 22, Unity announced the latest versino of its pricing policy that backed off on a number of the changes that made developers angry. The Runtime fee, based on the number of downloads, will take effect with the launch of Unity 6 next year. But it will be implemented in a different way.
“The thing you’ll hear a lot from us at Unite is our commitment to listening to our developer community, prioritizing based on their feedback, and frankly, showing how we’re delivering on a bunch of their big requests,” Whitten said.
In terms of getting developers to trust Unity again, Whitten said the focus will be on showing rather than telling, and the company hopes to address the trust issues by following through on its commitments.
“My strong belief is that what builds trust is consistency of action,” Whitten said. “We’re all really focused on listening, making sure we’re delivering tons of value that creators find useful.”
Under the revised policy, the Runtime fee starts on the next version of Unity, so it doesn’t apply to any existing titles. The fee is either a 2.5% of revenue or a calculated runtime fee, whiche ver is less.
The download counting only kicks in if a developers game crosses a million downloads and more than $1 million in revenue on a 12-month-trailing basis. Developers can choose to pay 2.5% of revenue per month or a calculated runtime fee based on downloads, whichever is lower.
Unity changed the requirement from Unity deciding what the download numbers are to a self-reporting system on download numbers from developers.
Unity Muse, which previously was unveiled in a closed beta, has now transitioned into early access, offering a continually expanding suite of features catering to developers of all skill levels, Whitten said. The features include Muse Chat, Muse Sprite, and Muse Textures.
Notably, Sprite and Textures are bolstered by a custom-built deep-learning model trained on proprietary data and images owned or licensed by Unity, eliminating any copyrighted or recognizable artistic styles.
Hugo Kostic, a technical artist at Far From Here Studio, praises Unity Muse for generating high-quality organic textures promptly, freeing up more time for artists to focus on creative aspects.
Unity Muse is available as a standalone product for $30 per month, offering subscribers priority access to upcoming features such as Muse Animate, Muse Behavior, and Muse Sketch. These features are aimed at enhancing character animations, interactions, and rapid prototyping for team collaborations.
Simultaneously, Unity Sentis, an AI model-powered tool, is assisting developers to integrate complex AI data models into Unity Runtime. Currently in open beta, Unity Sentis is anticipated to launch in general availability with Unity 6 in 2024.
Unity 6, positioned as the upcoming major software release in 2024, aspires to deliver advanced visual enhancements, accelerated multiplayer game creation, AI support, and mobile and VR device innovations. It is projected to push the boundaries of visual quality and efficiency in world creation.
“We are here to help developers build amazing games and find success,” said Whitten. “Central to our work is their feedback. They tell us where we are helping them and they tell us when there is more work to do. In Unity 6, this means focusing on performance and workflow improvements. In AI, it means working to make sure they have the control they need to build even more and faster. We want to be a true partner, addressing our creators’ needs at any point of their game development lifecycle.”
Moreover, Unity has introduced Unity Cloud, a suite of interconnected tools to facilitate content organization and collaboration across teams and development lifecycles. Early access to Unity Cloud offers new features for asset management, team administration, and content workflow integrations.
Apple Vision Pro development
Furthermore, Unity’s earlier platform support for Apple Vision Pro at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), introduced as PolySpatial, has progressed to an open beta program. This program is now accessible to all Unity Pro, Enterprise, and Industry subscribers, facilitating the development of spatial applications for Apple Vision Pro using Unity’s Editor and Runtime.
For the Vision Pro development, Unity tool is going into open beta for any Unity subscriber to leverage that technology to build for Apple Vision Pro. That means any Unity subscriber will be able to develop games and apps for Apple’s new headset.
“That’s a really big moment,” Whitten said. “We’re very excited to see what developers do.”
First in-person Unite event since COVID
The event in Amsterdam is Unity’s first chance to meet with its community in person since 2019. There will be a lot of workshops and developer tracks, and the event is so overbooked that there is a waiting list.
“This year, one of the key things that we will be really focusing on is the next version of Unity, which ships next year,” said Whitten. “It has everything to do with quality and stability and really significant graphics improvements and easier multiplayer and things like that.”
Rather than name its Unity versions by the year they launched, Unity is shifting to a numbering system to make it less confusing, Whitten said.
“We’ll also be making our AI tools and Unity Muse available to everyone. We’re really excited to showcase where those tools are now,” he said. “They have been in beta for a while but this will mark when they are available for everybody to start using them and subscribing to them.”
The cloud capabilities are really designed to make it easier for people to build games in either a large group or to manage large bits of data in the Unity engine and editor, he said.
The new boss
Regarding work with the new CEO, Whitten said Whitehouse has a deep focus on delivering value for creators, based on his experience at Red Hat.
“He has been great to work with, but these plans have been in the works for a long time,” Whitten said. “We hope that Unity 6 is going to be the number one thing that blows people away.”
Unity will have performance enhancements that allow developers to run richer scenes at a much more performant rate across a large variety of platforms.
“The other big one that we’ve been spending a lot of time working on is really how to make sure that building multiplayer experiences is easier and continues to improve,” Whitten said. “Every game now is a live game is a multiplayer game. There is also more AI going into the product.”
The tools will help developers be more productive and build content and prototypes faster than ever before. Whitten said he is excited that several developers have already been doing really interesting things with the AI tools.
“I was pretty blown away by the stuff that has been coming back,” he said. “Muse is heavily on the generative AI side. And people are already using the tools.”
That includes things as simple as a version of Pong built with raytracing technology.
AI with Unity Muse
Regarding AI, Whitten said, “Our goal with Muse is to make sure that we’re constantly building these magical tools that help you in every part of game development. If you’re stuck, like you need some help with code, or how to do something in Unity, or if there’s a type of content that you want to do some quick sort of variations on, then that is what Muse is. Muse chat is where you can do code and ask questions.”
Unity will show off what is coming in the future with AI, such as tools that go from text prompts to generating animations.
“There are going to be a ton of tools that generate a ton of different types of assets,” he said. “Our focus with Muse is making sure they’re easy to integrate into your game. We want to focus on making sure that we can build the types of animations that matter for games.”
Muse will be a subscription for around $30 a month that gives developers a certain amount of generation. If the developer goes beyond normal usage, it will cost extra.
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