We recently chatted with a couple of indie customers who released successful commercial content with the free version of Unity and the Basic mobile publishing tools that are now also available without charge. At a time when they were starting their studios and/or learning how to use Unity, they gained a powerful advantage with Unity’s intuitive, robust and stable technology.
Frostnova in Estonia and Russia-based CarX Technologies are both small studios founded by developers who turned their much-loved hobbies into their work. “We do this work because we can’t help but do it,” says Anatoly Scherbak, CEO of CarX Technologies, creators of the CarX driving simulator (see screen shot below).“CarX is built on our twin passions of race car driving and developing a car physics engine, so it’s the perfect synergy.”
The original CarX demo was made in another engine. However, potential customers soon began asking the team when it would be available in Unity. An existing customer helped port the CarX demo to the free version of Unity and the studio began selling more licenses. Currently Anatoly and his team use Unity Pro, and they recently ported a high-quality mobile version of CarX with Unity’s now free iOS publishing tools. The demo was released last week on the App Store and has already had 200,000 downloads.
“Unity provides fantastic value,” says Anatoly. “It’s low-cost technology that can support a AAA driving simulator on different platforms. That’s a pretty amazing product.”
Mikk Melder and some friends formed Frostnova after deciding they wanted to build an MMO that “would give players real-life value.” In November 2012 Frostnova released the beta version of their children’s MMO, (see screenshot below) built entirely in the free version of Unity.
“We got 70-80% of the features we needed for the MMO with the free version of Unity,” he says. “We also got awesome support from Unity along the way, even though we were free users.”
The game, titled “Ennemuistne” incorporates Estonia’s culture both in its looks and the activities players can participate in. The MMO won in the category of e-culture in Estonia’s Best E-Service 2013 nation-wide contest, and Frostnova was featured in this recent BBC report.
Today Mikk and his team are in the midst of developing their first mobile game for the Android platform.
“The Android toolset (now included in the free version of Unity) is a really powerful option. We’ve been able to complete about 90% of the project with it. The scaling for different devices is done, the core game play is done, we created some good special effects. It gave us the chance to get our game to a near-release phase so that we could test it on different devices, test it with friends and get good feedback,” says Mikk.
Just like CarX Technologies, Frostnova will soon start developing with Unity Pro. But Mikk says that developing their first projects with Unity’s free tools has only been a benefit.
“We met Oleg (Unity evangelist Oleg Pridiuk) just a few months after we started working on our MMO, and he gave us some really useful advice. He told us to make our game first, get something good up and running and then go with Unity Pro after we’d had some success. And that’s what we’ve done, and now we’re ready to make a larger investment.”