This is the fourth installment in a blog series we launched to share what Unity is doing for all game developers – now, next year, and in the future. In this blog, we cover the status, upcoming release plans, and future vision for how the Unity platform enables you to reach more players over multiple platforms and form factors.
My name is Nick Rapp, and I’m the senior director of the platform engineering teams at Unity. I’ve worked here for seven years, and on game platforms for the last 12. Much of my career has been about enabling developers to make and ship great games, so I’m pleased to be able to share what we’ve been working on.
Seeing and playing your amazing games is what motivates us, and is why I do what I do. This post is a collaborative effort between myself and my colleagues Martin Best, James Stone, and Frederic Garnier on our product management team.
Our addition to the Games Focus series will focus on targeted platforms and how Unity enables you to reach more players through these platforms and form factors. This includes a review of the work we have done in the last year to add a new platform and make it easier to reach existing ones. While we currently enable you to deploy across all major platforms, we also think, based on your feedback, that we have a lot of opportunities to improve, so we’ll share an overview of how we see things evolving going forward. Let’s dig in.
Unity has a long tradition of supporting the platforms you want to bring your games to. We partner deeply with platform holders to ensure the best possible outcome for you and your game. Our goal is to help you reach as many people as you can – with as little friction and as much performance as possible – by tapping into the unique platform features necessary to help your game stand out from the crowd.
Unity provides a broad ecosystem of platform support and technology integrations. Today, we support over 20 platform integrations, and one of our key strengths has always been that new platforms are supported the day they ship.
The Unity engine is known for its strength on mobile, but we know many of you want your content on all major platforms – across mobile and handhelds to desktops and consoles to XR.
Everything we will cover in this section has either already shipped in Unity 2021 LTS, Unity 2022.1 Tech Stream, or is currently available in our 2022.2 beta, which will become the next Tech Stream. To learn more about the Unity beta and how you can continue to help us shape the future of the Unity real-time development platform, visit our beta forum.
We know it’s important to make sure that you can be there on day one for any new platforms coming to market. In 2021.2 and 2021 LTS, we brought native support for Apple silicon to the Editor, ensuring you can have the best possible authoring experience as Apple transitions to a new architecture. For 2022.2, we’ve added support for PlayStation®VR2, and we look forward to seeing your games shine on the platform.
We continue to invest in improvements for mobile developers. Helping you succeed on mobile has been the cornerstone of our success, and we’re constantly looking for ways to save you time, money, and effort. This year, that includes improvements such as fast deploy for Android, which speeds up deployment to devices, in-Editor gradle configuration, and improved support for major toolchain updates for Android and iOS to ensure compatibility with the latest devices.
As part of ensuring that you have choice in how you reach mobile gamers, we’re continuing to focus on mobile web support. In 2022.2, you will see touch keyboard support and mobile texture compression formats for our WebGL deployment target. We’re also finally removing the mobile browser warning label – a big step toward officially supporting web on mobile devices, and acknowledging that many of you already found success there.
For both mobile and web, memory management is always a challenge, and we’ve been working on ways to offer you better insights. We have a new diagnostic overlay tool that measures WASM and JS memory usage, as well as new player settings to adjust initial WASM memory heap size and growth characteristics to help you better manage memory footprint in the browser.
You may have seen the recent graphics blog that covers Unity’s rendering pipelines. This section explores some of the platform-level graphics work we have been doing to help make your lives better.
One of those areas of focus has been on graphics performance across all platforms. As part of that effort, the DirectX12 backend is out of preview in 2022.2 as a result of significant investment into performance and stability. It is now recommended for Windows and Xbox development. Depending on the project, users can expect performance on par or greater than DX11, especially in draw call-heavy scenes.
To improve runtime shader performance and memory management across all platforms, we started by improving shader warmup using asynchronous PSO creation. Using modern graphics APIs, shader runtime compilation is performed as part of the pipeline object creation, which can contribute to stutters and slowdowns when warming shaders. This optimization accelerates shader warmup on modern graphics APIs via multithreaded creation of pipeline objects in order to reduce runtime stutters and slowdowns.
In addition, we have improvements to shader resource deduplication and dynamic shader loading. Dynamic shader loading enables streaming of shader data chunks into memory, as well as eviction of shader data that is no longer needed, based on a user-defined memory budget.
These are just a few of the features and investments that have excited us and have contributed to improving our platform support to help you ship high-quality games and reach as many passionate gamers across multiple platforms as possible. We know that stability and the ability to ship games are still your top priorities, and they’re ours as well. Our team continues to spend the majority of its time on bug fixing, SDK updates, and certification requirements, which helps ensure we can keep the engine running smoothly across the 20+ platform integrations we support today.
In addition to our ongoing efforts to improve your ability to support and deploy to our existing supported platforms, we wanted to give you some insight into our long-term vision and invite you to join the conversation.
If you’re bringing your games to additional platforms, we know the ability to deploy is not the end of the journey. We understand that there is still significant work involved in shipping your game. Looking forward, we aim to solve this so you can truly create once, ship everywhere.
We’re investing to improve how our platform helps you prepare for the certification process to minimize last-minute surprises during submission. That starts with listening to your biggest pain points in this space.
By the end of the year, we’ll be turning the results of that listening into product plans in order to try and close that gap. We’re still prioritizing the needs we hear about in your feedback, but already understand that you want APIs to help abstract common platform requirements, like user management and achievements, which would help to reduce the amount of platform-specific code you write. There is also a need for integrated certification tools to help ensure issues are caught before submission, which would help to reduce the number of certification attempts needed to ship.
In addition, we recognize that there are always new and innovative platforms, store fronts, and distribution channels launching all the time. Because of this, we are working on tools to help you manage the complexity of supporting these different endpoints, and we’re investigating a new development model that would enable us to support these emerging platforms in a standardized way. The goal is to provide access to a broader ecosystem of platforms and related technologies so that you can take your game anywhere your players are.
If you want to join the conversation, share your feedback in the forums.
Getting started on console development requires approvals from the various platform holders in order to get the Unity platform modules – this is the first step. I would encourage you to leverage not only Unity resources, but also the materials that our partners have shared to help developers target and launch on Xbox, PlayStation, and others.
Learn about multiplatform development in Unity, and read about creators who found success taking full advantage of the platform ecosystem that Unity supports, in case studies covering games – such as Subnautica, Ori: Will of the Wisps, Crying Suns, Last Stop, Greak: Memories of Azur, and Rollerdrome.
Lastly, check out our e-book Five foundations for successful multiplatform games to learn why award-winning developers believe it’s best to target gamers on all available platforms. This e-book is full of insights from industry veterans who share what they’ve learned about how to predict potential development costs, identify major roadblocks, prioritize a development pipeline, optimize the player experience on each platform, and maximize the market potential of multiplatform reach.
We will continue to look to you to help us understand how we can help make your everyday lives better, your games better, and your businesses more successful. Thank you for all of your support and feedback over the years, and please keep it coming!
We hope you’ll stay engaged with our Games Focus series by sharing your feedback. Post any questions and comments about this blog to our forums.
To learn more about what’s in store for Unity, visit the platforms roadmap web page. You’ll need to log in with your Unity ID and accept to use functional cookies to see the page. Each card on the interactive board is clickable, giving you more details about each topic while also providing you with the option to share feedback. Click on a card, select the level of importance of the topic to you, add your point of view, and choose submit. Feedback is directly routed to the proper product teams.
Stay tuned to the blog for our next Games Focus update.