With the launch of Unity 2023.1, developers using Unity can now target Arm based Windows devices for their titles, and achieve native performance on devices that use the ARM64 processors, such as the Surface Pro 9 and the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s. This opens up new possibilities for developers to create high-performance, immersive experiences on a wider range of devices.
This blog will dive into what is required to build games for Windows on Arm, and offer a glimpse into the future of Unity Editor support for the platform.
The requirements for building your project for Windows on Arm are the same as for any other architecture Unity supports on Windows. If you’re using the Mono scripting backend, there are no other system requirements, aside from downloading and installing the Unity Editor itself. If you’re using the IL2CPP scripting backend, you will need the Unity Editor, Visual Studio 2019 or newer with the C++ compiler for ARM64 component, and the Windows SDK installed.
Setting the build target to be Windows on Arm can be done from the Build Settings window by setting the Architecture to “ARM 64-bit”.
Alternatively, if you have set up your own build scripts, you can use the UnityEditor.WindowsStandalone.UserBuildSettings.architecture property to set the targeted architecture to ARM64 and produce an Arm build of your project.
In addition to Windows on Arm platform support, Unity 2023.1 includes improved features and render quality for both the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP) and Universal Render Pipeline (URP). It also features platform graphic improvements, additional connectivity types for multiplayer solutions, and more. Get started with Unity 2023.1 by visiting our download page or through the Unity Hub.
First showcased at GDC 2023, the URP 3D Sample Scene shows Unity’s scalability on a wide range of platforms. The Garden scene in particular shows how you can use Unity’s URP features to create beautiful, immersive environments on any device players choose to run it on.
Unity running natively on Arm-based Windows devices can fully utilize the power of the Arm processors to render the Garden scene in gorgeous detail, at a steady frame rate.
The garden scene was showcased during Microsoft Build on May 24 during the breakout session, “Learn how to build the best Arm apps for Windows.” In this segment, you can see how native runtime support for ARM64 substantially reduces CPU usage when compared to running via an Arm emulation layer.
Announced with the launch of the Windows Dev Kit 2023 Project Volterra, Unity is currently working on making the Unity Editor itself run natively on Windows on Arm devices to take advantage of Arm-based hardware capabilities. We’ll share more information about the Unity Editor for Arm-based Windows devices soon.
The Windows Dev Kit 2023 (previously known as Project Volterra) is now available for testing your games on Arm-based Windows devices. You can read about it here.
To learn more about the announcements made at Microsoft Build, check out Panos Panay’s blog post that covers highlights from the show.
To learn more about the URP 3D sample scene, watch this talk from GDC 2023. In this recorded session, Jonas Mortensen, a technical artist at Unity, walks through how to build beautiful cross-platform games in URP and scale game graphics. You can also see technical rundowns of select graphics features like custom post-processing, custom lighting, and shaders, and find tips on how to apply them in your own projects.
Q: How did this partnership come about?
A: In August of 2022, Unity partnered with Microsoft Azure to bring our Create Solutions to the cloud and develop our cloud infrastructure to better meet your needs and to enhance your games and other experiences. Microsoft and Unity are also working together to make it easier to build and distribute your games on Windows and Xbox platforms.
Q: How will this help my title?
A: Multiplatform development helps enhance the reach of your title, getting it into the hands of players wherever they are.
Q: Where can I access the Windows on Arm platform support?
A: Unity 2023.1 Tech Stream and newer supports the Windows on Arm runtime.
Q: Where can I publish my Windows on Arm games?
A: Developers creating games targeting the Windows Store will continue to require either UWP or the Microsoft GDK for publishing. Since GDK at this time does not support ARM64, publishing ARM64 games to the Windows Store is not possible. Check with other third party stores for specific support for ARM64.
Q: What is the Microsoft Game Development Kit (GDK)?
A: The Microsoft Game Development Kit (GDK) contains the common tools, libraries, and documentation needed to build games for Xbox Game Pass for PC on Windows 10/11, Xbox consoles (Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One), and cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.