Unity responds to Unreal Engines’ new aggressive pricing by releasing a new version of their engine, Unity 5, and increasing the number of features included in the free version.
The race between the game engines has really heated up during these last couple of days at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.
Yesterday, Epic Games announced that their game engine, Unreal Engine 4, would become completely free, thus dropping the previously-used subscription model. Users will have full access to all features and source code. The only requirement is that you pay Epic 5% of the income the game generates once it releases, but only if it makes more than $3.000 per quarter.
That left Unity to come back with a suitable response, which they did this evening during a live presentation at the Game Developers Conference. Here they announced, just hours ago, that the latest version of the Unity game engine, Unity5 is now officially out, and ready for download on their website.
And that’s not all. In addition to a host of new features included in Unity5, they also presented a new policy regarding the free version of Unity3D, now dubbed Personal Edition. Instead of artificially blocking out features in the editor, to be unlocked by purchasing the pro-version, the new free version of Unity5 has all core functions available, with only supplementary features, such as the Cloud Build feature, being reserved for the Pro version.
In an interview with Re/Code, Unity’s new CEO John Riccitiello admits that the previous free version was “too watered down,” and he promises that any game made in Unity 5 Pro can also be made in the free version.
In addition to access to the Cloud Build service, the Pro version will also include a customizable splash screen, Unity Analytics Pro, team licensing, prioritized bug handling, game performance recording, and access to new beta versions ahead of time.
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The new version of Unity seems to take aim directly at closing the gap between itself and Unreal Engine 4, as the majority of the updates in the new version are focused on graphic fidelity and quality. An area that Unreal had been leading up till now. The new version also features an improved audio interface, a new animator, and improved physics, but these appear further down the list of features.
This could be seen as an indication that Unity sees Unreal Engine 4 as one of it’s biggest threats, rather than some of the smaller and more simple game editors or development frameworks present in the low end of the mobile spectrum, even if the majority of the growth in the industry is occurring in the mobile segment.
The major features of the new version of Unity are:
- Physically-based Standard Shader to make your materials look consistent in any lighting environment, cross platform.
- Real-time Global Illumination, built on Geomerics Enlighten technology.
- New Audio Mixer, to massively improve audio in your game.
- HDR Reflection Probes to enhance visual fidelity.
- PhysX 3.3 to bring massive performance improvements to 3D physics.
- Major updates to the animation system.
- WebGL preview.
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The new, free, Personal Edition of Unity5 is already available for download at Unity’s website here. Pricing for the Pro version remains unchanged at $1.500 for a full license or $75/ month for a subscription.