A very common question we get is "what is the penetration of the Unity plugin?"
There's several ways to answer that question. It's in the millions. It's also growing, and the rate of growth is increasing. And this year there's a long line of very major and high-profile game releases planned, which will accelerate this even more. But while the future may be good (and with Unity, the future is good), it's not now.
But why did you ask that question? Most likely it is to figure out the risk of using Unity content on your site. That you'll have lots of visitors, many of which who don't have and won't install the plugin and leave for somewhere else.
Of course plugin penetration is very important to this, but if a technology doesn't have >95% ubiquity, the plugin installation process is just as important.
We spent a lot of effort figuring out how to make the plugin install process for Unity as simple as possible. And it's a lot easier than that of the Shockwave player (not to mention other sub-par technologies). Well, parts of the install process took effort and thinking... but how much effort goes into not requiring registration and pushing adware?
– The whole plugin is 3MB download for everything
– And it is delivered from a Content Delivery Network so all users get a fast download
– The installation doesn't require a browser restart on any platform
– And it even keeps the user on same the site without even a page reload
– There's no user registration required
– And no Google toolbar or other adware
– Unity supports Microsoft Vista and Intel based Macs
– And doesn't crash on old/ancient graphics card and driver combinations
Our statistics tell us that for people who don't have the plugin already installed, over 60% complete the plugin installation (this differs between different types of content, and just as importantly, based on the presentation of your content... that is material for another blog post).
Depending on where you deploy Shockwave content, it is commonly believed that 50% of your visitors have the plugin installed already. Of the remaining 50%, you'll lose some because of the plugin installation process. Because of the reasons outlined above, for Shockwave we believe it is around 40%. So do the math:
Successful plugin installs: ~20% (50% x 40% success rate)
Total successful views: ~70%
Successful plugin installs: ~59% (99% * 60% success rate)
Total successful view: ~60%
As a solid proof, R/C Laser Warrior recently was the most played game on shockwave.com for 2 weeks straight, with up 40.000 simultaneous players, and is still listed as a Top Online game there. And that's on a site dominated by Shockwave games.
Still, you might worry that using the Unity technology is a bit daring, and early-adopter-ish. A couple of weeks ago, a Massive Media Conglomerate called Disney released a Unity-based game online game, Sooga Mountain. So I ask you, can you be as agile and daring as those guys? ;)