Unity (game engine)

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Unity logo used in 2014 - 2017
Unity logo used in 2014 - 2017
Developer(s)Unity Technologies
Initial release1.0 / June 8, 2005; 13 years ago (2005-06-08)
Stable release
2018.3.9 / March 18, 2019; 5 days ago (2019-03-18)[1]
Written inC++ (Runtime)
C# (Unity Scripting API)[2]
Operating systemWindows, macOS, Linux
PlatformIA-32, x86-64, ARM
Available inEnglish
TypeGame engine
LicenseProprietary software
Alexa rankIncrease 1,157 (July 2018) [3]

Unity is a cross-platform real-time engine developed by Unity Technologies,[4] first announced and released in June 2005 at Apple Inc.'s Worldwide Developers Conference as an OS X-exclusive game engine. As of 2018, the engine has been extended to support 27 platforms.[5] The engine can be used to create both three-dimensional and two-dimensional games as well as simulations for its many platforms. Several major versions of Unity have been released since its launch, with the latest stable version being Unity 2018.3.9.[6]


Unity gives users the ability to create games and interactive experiences in both 2D and 3D, and the engine offers a primary scripting API in C#, for both the Unity editor in the form of plugins, and games themselves, as well as drag and drop functionality. Prior to C# being the primary programming language used for the engine, it previously supported Boo, which was removed in the Unity 5[7] release, and a version of JavaScript called UnityScript, which was deprecated in August 2017 after the release of Unity 2017.1 in favor of C#.[8]

The engine has support for the following graphics APIs: Direct3D on Windows and Xbox One; OpenGL on Linux, macOS, and Windows; OpenGL ES on Android and iOS; WebGL on the web; and proprietary APIs on the video game consoles. Additionally, Unity supports the low-level APIs Metal on iOS and macOS and Vulkan on Android, Linux, and Windows, as well as Direct3D 12 on Windows and Xbox One.

Within 2D games, Unity allows importation of sprites and an advanced 2D world renderer. For 3D games and simulations, Unity allows specification of texture compression, mipmaps, and resolution settings for each platform that the game engine supports,[5] 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.[9]

Since about 2016 Unity also offers cloud-based services to developers, these are presently: Unity Ads, Unity Analytics, Unity Certification, Unity Cloud Build, Unity Everyplay, Unity IAP ("In app purchase" - for the Apple and Google app stores), Unity Multiplayer, Unity Performance Reporting, Unity Collaborate and Unity Hub.

Unity supports the creation of custom vertexes, fragments (or pixels), tessellation, compute shaders and Unity's own surface shaders using Cg, a modified version of Microsoft's High-Level Shading Language developed by Nvidia.

Supported platforms[edit]

The Unity editor is supported on Windows and macOS, with a version of the editor available for the Linux platform, albeit in an experimental stage,[10] while the engine itself currently supports building games for 27 different platforms. The platforms are listed as the following: iOS, Android, Tizen, Windows (Vista or newer[11]), Universal Windows Platform, macOS, Linux, WebGL, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, Wii U, 3DS, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, SteamVR, PlayStation VR, Gear VR, Windows Mixed Reality, Daydream, Android TV, Samsung Smart TV, tvOS, Nintendo Switch, Fire OS, Facebook Gameroom, Apple's ARKit, Google's ARCore, and Vuforia.

Unity formerly supported seven other platforms including its own Unity Web Player. The Unity Web Player was a browser plugin that was only supported on Windows and macOS via Chrome, Internet Explorer 11, and Firefox,[12] however it was deprecated in favor of WebGL.[13] Since version 5, Unity has been offering its WebGL bundle compiled to JavaScript using a 2-stage language translator (C# to C++ and finally to JavaScript).[14][15]

Unity is the default software development kit (SDK) used for Nintendo's Wii U video game console, 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".[16][17]

Unity announced on the 19th of March 2019 that they will officially support Google's Stadia cloud streaming gaming platform, however, Stadia still has not been launched to the public.[18]

Licensing model[edit]

During its first ten years as a product the paid versions of Unity were sold outright; in 2016 the corporation changed to a subscription model.[19]

Unity has one free and three paid licensing options:

License Name All Engine Features and Platforms Revenue Capacity Splash Screen Multiplayer Cloud Build Queue Dark Theme Performance Reporting Premium Support Access to Source Code Real time shadows for all lights Price
Personal Yes $100,000 Made With Unity and optional Custom Animation 20 CCUs Standard No No No No No Free
Plus Yes $200,000 Custom Animation and/or Made with Unity 50 CCUs Priority Yes Yes No No Yes $420 billed $35 per month for a mandatory 12 months.[20]
Pro Yes Unlimited Custom Animation and/or Made with Unity 200 CCUs Concurrent Builds Yes Yes Yes No Yes $1,500 billed at $125 per month for a mandatory 12 months.[21]
Enterprise Yes Unlimited Custom Animation and/or Made with Unity Custom Multiplayer Dedicated Build Agents Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Negotiated Pricing


The Unity game engine launched in 2005, aiming to "democratize" game development by making it accessible to more developers.[22][23] The next year, Unity was named runner-up in the Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics category in Apple, Inc's Apple Design Awards.[24] Unity was initially released for Mac OS X, later adding support for Microsoft Windows and Web browsers.[25]

Unity 2.0 launched in 2007 with approximately 50 new features.[26] The release included an optimized terrain engine for detailed 3D environments, real-time dynamic shadows, directional lights and spotlights, video playback, and other features.[26] The release also added features whereby developers could collaborate more easily.[26] It included a Networking Layer for developers to create multiplayer games based on User Datagram Protocol, offering Network Address Translation, and State Synchronization and Remote Procedure Calls.[26]

When Apple launched its App Store in 2008, Unity quickly added support for the iPhone.[25] For several years, the engine was uncontested on the iPhone and it became well-known with iOS game developers.[22]

Unity 3.0 launched in September 2010 with features expanding the engine's graphics features for desktop computers and video game consoles.[27] In addition to Android support, Unity 3 featured integration of Illuminate Labs' Beast Lightmap tool, deferred rendering, built-in tree editor, native font rendering, automatic UV mapping, and audio filters, among other things.[27]

In 2012 VentureBeat wrote, "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 gee-whiz graphics in their iOS, Android, console, PC, and web-based games. ... Unity wants to be the engine for multi-platform games, period."[16] A May 2012 survey by Game Developer magazine indicated Unity as its top game engine for mobile platforms.[28] In July 2014, Unity won the "Best Engine" award at the UK's annual Develop Industry Excellence Awards.[29] In November 2012, Unity Technologies delivered Unity 4.0.[30] This version added DirectX 11 and Adobe Flash support, new animation tools called Mecanim, and access to Linux preview.[30]

Facebook integrated a software development kit for games using the Unity game engine in 2013.[31] This featured tools that allowed tracking advertising campaigns and deep linking, where users were directly linked from social media posts to specific portions within games, and easy in-game-image sharing.[31] In 2016, Facebook developed a new PC gaming platform with Unity.[32] Unity provided support for Facebook's gaming platforms, and Unity developers could more quickly export and publish games to Facebook.[32]

The Verge said of 2015's Unity 5 release: "Unity started with the goal of making game development universally accessible.... Unity 5 is a long-awaited step towards that future."[33] With Unity 5, the engine improved its lighting and audio.[34] Through WebGL, Unity developers could add their games to compatible Web browsers with no plug-ins required for players.[34] Unity 5.0 offered real-time global illumination, light mapping previews, Unity Cloud, new audio system, and the Nvidia PhysX3.3 physics engine.[34] The fifth generation of the Unity engine also introduced Cinematic Image Effects to help make Unity games look less generic.[35] Unity 5.6 added new lighting and particle effects, updated the engine's overall performance, and added native support for Nintendo Switch, Facebook Gameroom, Google Daydream VR, and the Vulkan graphics API.[36] It introduced a 4K video player capable of running 360-degree videos for virtual reality.[36] However, some gamers criticized Unity's accessibility due to the high volume of quickly produced games published on the Steam distribution platform by inexperienced developers.[37] 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."[38]

In December 2016, Unity Technologies announced that they would change the versioning numbering system for Unity from sequence-based identifiers to year of release to align the versioning with their more frequent release cadence; Unity 5.6 was therefore followed by Unity 2017.[39] Unity 2017 tools featured a real-time graphics rendering engine, color grading and worldbuilding, live operations analytics and performance reporting.[40] Unity 2017.2 underscored Unity Technologies' plans beyond video games.[40] This included new tools such as Timeline, which allowed developers to drag-and-drop animations into games, and Cinemachine, a smart camera system within games.[40] Unity 2017.2 also integrated Autodesk's 3DS Max and Maya tools into the Unity engine for a streamlined asset sharing in-game iteration process.[41]

Unity 2018 featured the Scriptable Render Pipeline for developers to create high-end graphics.[42] This included the High-Definition Rendering Pipeline for console and PC experiences, and the Lightweight Rendering Pipeline for mobile, virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.[42] Unity 2018 also included machine learning tools, such as Imitation Learning, whereby games learn from real player habits, support for Magic Leap, and templates for new developers.[42]


On December 16, 2013, Unity Technologies Japan revealed new screenshots for an official mascot character named Unity-chan (ユニティちゃん, Yuniti-chan), real name Kohaku Ōtori (大鳥 こはく, Ōtori Kohaku) (voiced by Asuka Kakumoto [ja]), with exhibit of the character in Comic Market 85 event in the Tokyo Big Sight between December 29 to the 31st, where themed goods would be distributed and her voice actress would be present at the event. The character's associated game data were to be released in spring 2014.[43][44][45] The character was designed by Unity Technologies Japan designer "ntny" as an open-source heroine character.[46] The company allows the use of Unity-chan and related characters in secondary projects under certain licenses.[47] For example, Unity-chan appears as a playable character in Runbow.[48] The popularity of the character also led to her appearance in VOCALOID adaptions, including her own sound library for VOCALOID4 and a special adaption of VOCALOID designed to work with the Unity Engine 5.0 version called Unity with VOCALOID.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://store.unity.com/download?ref=personal
  2. ^ "Is Unity Engine written in Mono/C#? or C++ - Unity Answers". answers.unity3d.com. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
  3. ^ "unity3d.com Traffic Statistics". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2018-07-21.
  4. ^ Riccitiello, John (October 23, 2014). "John Riccitiello sets out to identify the engine of growth for Unity Technologies (interview)". VentureBeat (Interview). Interviewed by Dean Takahashi. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Unity - Multiplatform". Unity. Unity Technologies. Retrieved June 27, 2018.
  6. ^ Technologies, Unity. "Download Unity". Unity Store. Retrieved 8 March 2019.
  7. ^ "What's new in Unity 5.0". Unity Technologies. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  8. ^ Fine, Richard (August 11, 2017). "UnityScript's long ride off into the sunset". Unity Technologies Blog. Retrieved September 18, 2017.
  9. ^ "Using DirectX11 in Unity 4". Unity Technologies. Archived from the original on March 12, 2013. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  10. ^ Bard, Na'Tosha Bard (August 26, 2015). "Unity Comes to Linux: Experimental Build Now Available – Unity Blog". Unity Technologies Blog. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  11. ^ "What's new in Unity 2018.1". Unity Technologies. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Unity Web Player".
  13. ^ "Unity Web Player Roadmap". Unity Technologies Blog.
  14. ^ "Unity Manual: Getting started with WebGL development".
  15. ^ "Verge3D versus Unity WebGL".
  16. ^ a b Helgason, David (November 2, 2012). "Game developers, start your Unity 3D engines". GamesBeat (Interview). Interviewed by Dean Takahashi. VentureBeat. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  17. ^ McElroy, Griffin (August 20, 2013). "Unity for Wii U opens up GamePad hardware and more to developers". Polygon. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  18. ^ "Unity Support for Stadia: Here's what you need to know – Unity Blog". Unity Technologies Blog. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
  19. ^ "Subscription! Why? Joachim Ante".
  20. ^ https://store.unity.com/configure-plan/unity-plus
  21. ^ https://store.unity.com/configure-plan/unity-pro
  22. ^ a b Axon, Samuel (27 September 2016). "Unity at 10: For better—or worse—game development has never been easier". Ars Technica. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  23. ^ McWhertor, Michael (22 October 2014). "Former EA CEO John Riccitiello is now head of Unity". Polygon. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  24. ^ Smykill, Jeff (August 9, 2006). "Apple Design Award winners announced". ArsTechnica. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  25. ^ a b Brodkin, Jon (June 3, 2013). "How Unity3D Became a Game-Development Beast". Dice Insights. Retrieved October 30, 2018.
  26. ^ a b c d Cohen, Peter (October 11, 2007). "Unity 2.0 game engine now available". PCWorld. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  27. ^ a b Girard, Dave (September 27, 2010). "Unity 3 brings very expensive dev tools at a very low price". Ars Technica. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  28. ^ "Mobile game developer survey leans heavily toward iOS, Unity". Gamasutra. May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  29. ^ "Winners". Develop Online. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  30. ^ a b Tach, Dave (November 14, 2012). "Unity 4.0 available for download today with DX 11 support and Linux preview". Polygon. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  31. ^ a b Cohen, David (November 1, 2013). "How Facebook Integrated With The Unity Game Engine". Adweek. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  32. ^ a b Cohen, David (August 19, 2016). "Facebook Developing New PC Gaming Platform; Teams Up With Unity Technologies". Adweek. Retrieved October 29, 2018.
  33. ^ "Unity officially releases its new game engine: Unity 5". The Verge. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  34. ^ a b c Kumparak, Greg (March 18, 2014). "Unity 5 Announced With Better Lighting, Better Audio, And "Early" Support For Plugin-Free Browser Games". Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  35. ^ Orland, Kyle (March 15, 2016). "How new graphics effects can make Unity Engine games look less generic". Ars Technica. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  36. ^ a b Grubb, Jeff (March 31, 2017). "Unity 5.6 launches with support for Vulkan graphics, Nintendo Switch, and more". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  37. ^ "Unity - does indie gaming's biggest engine have an image problem?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  38. ^ "The chaos of democracy". Develop Online. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  39. ^ Batchelor, James. "Unity dropping major updates in favour of date-based model". GamesIndustry.biz. Retrieved 18 March 2017.
  40. ^ a b c "Unity Technologies – The World's Leading Game Engine". Nanalyze. October 18, 2017. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  41. ^ McAloon, Alissa (October 4, 2017). "Unity 2017.2 brings Autodesk integration into the fold". Gamasutra. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  42. ^ a b c Batchelor, James (March 20, 2018). "Unity 2018 detailed in GDC keynote". gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved January 14, 2019.
  43. ^ "ユニティ・テクノロジーズ・ジャパン、開発者向けに無償利用可能なキャラクター『ユニティちゃん』を発表 コミックマーケット85にも出展、3Dモデルデータなどを来春提供予定".
  44. ^ ""Unity"開発者向けに無償利用可能なキャラクター"ユニティちゃん"が来春デビュー!".
  45. ^ "Meet Unity-chan, the Unity Engine's New Mascot in Japan".
  46. ^ "Unity Japan Introduces Their Mascot, Unity-Chan, And How She Was Made".
  48. ^ "Exclusive: Check Out Runbow's Complete Cast of Colourful Crossover Characters". Nintendo Life. Retrieved November 27, 2015.

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