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Bringing the social experience to your games: Introducing Friends and Leaderboards

March 21, 2023 in Engine & platform | 7 min. read
Introducing Friends and Leaderboards | Hero image
Introducing Friends and Leaderboards | Hero image

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Games are more social than ever, and even single-player games often have social aspects such as activity feeds, friends lists, leaderboards, and more. These features not only connect people with their friends playing the game, but also with others who enjoy the game’s experience across the globe.

According to our Multiplayer Report 2022, social factors are prime decision and engagement drivers. The top performance-related features that gamers need for an enjoyable experience are rooted in the social experience of games – being able to join a game with friends (29%), communicate (29%), and more.

That’s why we’re excited to introduce a new Social category within Unity Gaming Services (UGS) to help developers of all sizes add a new layer of social experience for players to their games. The first solutions within this category, which are available today, are Friends and Leaderboards.

Read on to get the details of these new services and learn how you can add them to upcoming and live games.

What is Friends?

Friends enables your players to build online gaming friendships in your game’s ecosystem.

Introducing Friends and Leaderboards | Breachers friendslist
Players in Breachers will be able to make friendships powered by Unity Friends

“The Unity Friends SDK was extremely beneficial to Breachers. It enabled us to easily create a cross-platform friend list. Supported by excellent documentation and samples the implementation was a breeze. Thanks to it our users will be able to form friendships and easily join each other in-game.” – Tijs Van de Velde, senior developer at Triangle Factory

Friends unlocks the following functionality for your players: 

  • Send, accept, or ignore friend requests
  • Remove, block, or unblock friends
  • View friend requests and lists
  • See the status of friends on your list (active, in game, offline) with the Presence system

Friends works well with other tools from UGS such as Lobby, a player-driven matchmaking service, Leaderboards, a player score display system, and Voice and Text Chat, which powers player communication.

What is Leaderboards?

Leaderboards lets you add a new social and competitive feature into your multiplayer and single-player competitive games. Letting players compare their performance against others encourages competition to help increase player engagement.

Leaderboards in games are used in a wide variety of ways: daily challenges, clan battles, leagues ranking, a classic best time or best score in a level. All of these use cases can have unique needs: scheduling when the leaderboards reset, what score is used, adding tiers or buckets to segment players, etc. Now, any developer can use Leaderboards from Unity to create simple or complex leaderboards systems. All of this can be integrated through a simple interface in the Unity Dashboard or through APIs.

Players in Queens of Fortune (left) and Wordling! (right) compare their performance against others across the globe with Unity Leaderboards.
Players in Queens of Fortune (left) and Wordling! (right) compare their performance against others across the globe with Unity Leaderboards.

“As a small team, UGS’s high-quality backend tools and services, like Leaderboards, have been a game-changer for our development process and have allowed us to iterate on our games and develop new features at a much faster pace." – Joana Marques, co-founder at Joyglitch

“Using Unity Leaderboards let us easily add custom leaderboards to Queens of Fortune in a couple of days. The process was very smooth with clear documentation and great support from the product team at Unity.“ – Michael Heywood, co-founder/CEO at Included Games

Leaderboards is designed to be fully integrated with UGS, particularly Authentication and Social Profile support. We’re also testing a Cloud Code SDK, which allows you to build interesting features for your players. For example, you could automatically select a group of winners at the end of a tournament and send them digital or physical prizes.

Adding Leaderboards to your single or multiplayer game unlocks the following functionality:

  • Sort scores from lowest to highest or vice versa as well as taking into account the best score, the latest score, or the total score
  • Segment players into smaller buckets, create tiers based on ranking, and more to give players a better sense of progression
  • Reset leaderboards to keep the game fresh and increase engagement

Level up your games’ social experience with other UGS solutions

Friends and Leaderboards not only work well together but can also be integrated with other services from UGS to deliver an engaging experience for your players.

  • Voice and Text Chat: Power player communication by adding in-game chat.
  • Lobby: Let players create private or public rooms to meet up for games.
  • Relay: Connect your players with secure peer-to-peer, listen-server UDP communications.
  • Netcode for GameObjects: Build your multiplayer game’s foundation with our extensible networking library.

Check out our other Multiplayer and Engagement solutions to build the perfect tech stack for your game.

Amplify the fun with Friends and Leaderboards

If you’re looking to help players build online gaming friendships, or add a new layer of friendly competition within your games, then get started today with Friends and Leaderboards by heading to the Unity Dashboard.

Want to get all the details on the tech? Explore our Friends and Leaderboards documentation, and join the conversation on our forums (for Friends or Leaderboards).

Happy creating!

March 21, 2023 in Engine & platform | 7 min. read

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