Unity (game engine)

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Official unity logo.png
Developer(s) Unity Technologies
Initial release 1.0 / June 8, 2005; 10 years ago (2005-06-08)
Stable release 5.3.2 / January 28, 2016; 17 days ago (2016-01-28)
Written in C, C++ and C#
Operating system
Available in English
Type Game engine
License Proprietary
Website www.unity3d.com

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies[2] and used to develop video games for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. First announced only for OS X, at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2005, it has since been extended to target more than fifteen platforms.[3][4] It is now the default software development kit (SDK) for the Wii U.[5]

Five versions of Unity have been released. At the 2006 WWDC trade show, Apple, Inc. named Unity as the runner up for its Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics category.


With an emphasis on portability, the engine targets the following APIs: Direct3D on Windows and Xbox 360; OpenGL on Mac and Windows; OpenGL ES on Android and iOS; and proprietary APIs on video game consoles. Unity allows specification of texture compression and resolution settings for each platform the game engine supports,[3] and provides support for bump mapping, reflection mapping, parallax mapping, screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO), dynamic shadows using shadow maps, render-to-texture and full-screen post-processing effects.[6] Unity's graphics engine's platform diversity can provide a shader with multiple variants and a declarative fallback specification, allowing Unity to detect the best variant for the current video hardware; and if none are compatible, fall back to an alternative shader that may sacrifice features for performance.[7]

Unity is notable for its ability to target games to multiple platforms. Within a project, developers have control over delivery to mobile devices, web browsers, desktops, and consoles.[3][8] Supported platforms include Android, Apple TV,[9] BlackBerry 10, iOS, Linux, Nintendo 3DS line,[10][11][12] OS X, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Unity Web Player (including Facebook[13]), Wii, Wii U, Windows Phone 8, Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It includes an asset server and Nvidia's PhysX physics engine. Unity Web Player is a browser plugin that is supported in Windows and OS X only.[14] Unity is the default software development kit (SDK) for Nintendo's Wii U video game console platform, with a free copy included by Nintendo with each Wii U developer license. Unity Technologies calls this bundling of a third-party SDK an "industry first".[5][15]

In Japan, Unity has a moe mascot character named Unity-chan (ユニティちゃん Yuniti-chan?), real name Kohaku Otori (大鳥 こはく Ōtori Kohaku?) (voiced by Asuka Kakumoto). The company allows the use of Unity-chan and related characters for use in secondary projects under certain licenses.[16] For example, Unity-chan appears as a playable character in Runbow.[17]

Games using Unity[edit]

Main article: List of Unity games


In 2012, VentureBeat said, "Few companies have contributed as much to the flowing of independently produced games as Unity Technologies. ... More than 1.3 million developers are using its tools to create "Bob's your uncle" graphics in their iOS, Android, console, PC, and web-based games. ... Unity wants to be the engine for multiplatform games, period."[5]

For the Apple Design Awards at the 2006 WWDC trade show, Apple, Inc. named Unity as the runner up for its Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics category, a year after Unity's launch at the same trade show.[18] Unity Technologies says this is the first time a game design tool has ever been nominated for this award.[19] A May 2012 survey by Game Developer magazine indicated Unity as its top game engine for mobile platforms.[20] In July 2014, Unity won the "Best Engine" award at the UK's annual Develop Industry Excellence Awards.[21]

Unity 5 was met with similar praise, with The Verge stating that "Unity started with the goal of making game development universally accessible ... Unity 5 is a long-awaited step towards that future."[22]

Following the release of Unity 5, Unity Technologies drew criticism for the high volume of quickly produced games published on the Steam distribution platform by inexperienced developers.[23] CEO John Riccitiello said in an interview that he believes this to be a side effect of Unity's success in democratizing game development: “If I had my way, I’d like to see 50 million people using Unity – although I don’t think we’re going to get there any time soon. I’d like to see high school and college kids using it, people outside the core industry. I think it’s sad that most people are consumers of technology and not creators. The world’s a better place when people know how to create, not just consume, and that’s what we’re trying to promote."[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Unity Comes to Linux: Experimental Build Now Available". Unity Technologies Blog. 
  2. ^ Riccitiello, John (October 23, 2014). John Riccitiello sets out to identify the engine of growth for Unity Technologies (interview). VentureBeat. Interview with Dean Takahashi. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c "Unity - Multiplatform". Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  4. ^ "How Unity3D Became a Game-Development Beast". Slashdot.org. Dice. June 3, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c Helgason, David (November 2, 2012). Game developers, start your Unity 3D engines. GamesBeat. Interview with Dean Takahashi (VentureBeat). Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Using DirectX11 in Unity 4". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Shaders". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Unleash your game with effortless deployment to 10 global platforms". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Release Notes of Unity 5.3.1". unity3d.com. December 18, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2016. 
  10. ^ "UNITY TO SUPPORT NEW NINTENDO 3DS AND NEW NINTENDO 3DS XL". Unity Technologies. April 13, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  11. ^ P, Jenna (April 13, 2015). "Unity Support is Heading to the New Nintendo 3DS". IGN. Retrieved May 6, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Unity Europe Announces New 3DS Details". NintendoWorldReport. August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Unity technologies releases Facebook functionality update to unity 4". MarketWatch.com. March 26, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Unity Web Player". 
  15. ^ McElroy, Griffin (August 20, 2013). "Unity for Wii U opens up GamePad hardware and more to developers". Polygon. Retrieved August 4, 2014. 
  17. ^ Nintendo Life. "Exclusive: Check Out Runbow's Complete Cast of Colourful Crossover Characters". Nintendo Life. Retrieved November 27, 2015. 
  18. ^ Smykill, Jeff (August 9, 2006). "Apple Design Award winners announced". ArsTechnica. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Unity Technologies Celebrates Five Years of Continual Leadership and Innovation in Making Cutting Edge Game Technology" (Press release). San Francisco, CA: Gamasutra. June 7, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2015. 
  20. ^ "Mobile game developer survey leans heavily toward iOS, Unity". Gamasutra. May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Winners". Develop Online. Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  22. ^ "Unity officially releases its new game engine: Unity 5". The Verge. Retrieved November 26, 2015. 
  23. ^ "Unity - does indie gaming's biggest engine have an image problem?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 
  24. ^ "The chaos of democracy". Develop Online. Retrieved August 14, 2015. 

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