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How to achieve cross-platform success through console game development

October 27, 2022 in Games | 9 min. read
How to achieve cross-platform success through console game development | Hero image (version 2)
How to achieve cross-platform success through console game development | Hero image (version 2)

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Reaching console players is key for achieving cross-platform success. With the right resources, you can get your game ready for PlayStation®, Xbox®, and Nintendo Switch.

Console platforms have a lot to offer, from their install base to their powerful hardware capabilities. That’s why it’s so important to keep your Unity games on the right track when preparing to launch on console systems.

This blog post can serve as your guide for successful cross-platform game development. Read on for an overview of best practices and resources to keep in mind.

Start your engines

Each console is as unique as your creative vision, with its own specific submission requirements and developer portal access. Before we dive deeper, here are some basics to get your project set up from the time you open the Unity Hub.

Unity versions

All versions of Unity have their own corresponding console platform support add-ons. Installing an add-on provides support for particular console SDK versions. You can download the matching console SDK from the platform holder once you register with them.

Platform holders upgrade their console SDKs periodically, at which point we upgrade all current Unity versions, including LTS versions, to maintain compatibility with the latest SDKs. Be sure to verify that your version of Unity is paired with its corresponding SDK version.

Once you register and download the console SDK, you can begin developing a console game with your current version of Unity. However, we strongly recommend that as you get ready for submission, you move to the relevant LTS branch as it will be the most stable version and include critical bug fixes and SDK upgrades.

Unity extensions

Unity provides an Editor extension for each console. It effectively tells Unity how to build your scenes and deploy your game to a development kit. If you’ve built mobile games before, this workflow will be familiar to you.

Console hardware

Running your game in the Unity Editor is not the same as running it on the actual console hardware. Your development PC has different specs from each of the consoles, and the consoles have different specs from one another. These include clock speeds, save and load times, and the amount of RAM available.

We suggest that you run your game frequently on the relevant devkits. Choose a target device with the lowest spec that you plan on supporting, and test on that device regularly. This will help you pinpoint the baseline performance so you can author your content accordingly.

Leverage existing Unity tools and systems

Explore the Unity Asset Store

The Unity Asset Store has a wide range of assets that you can use for your console game development. While not all assets are tested and optimized for consoles, some of the solutions offered are generally tested and optimized (though not certified). Be mindful when selecting your assets, and ensure that the Asset Store developer has tested them on the console platforms you’re targeting.

You might want to check out these popular Unity Asset Store tools and packs, tailored to developers creating for consoles:

Get a handle on our DevOps tools

Adopting a DevOps methodology into your console game development journey can help reduce delays, heroics, and crunch. By automating manual processes, you can get code from development into production more quickly while maintaining code quality.

DevOps requires close collaboration between development and operations teams, and encourages a willingness to experiment and learn from mistakes. Here are some DevOps tools that we recommend for console development:

  • Unity Plastic SCM: A scalable, engine-agnostic version control and source code management system (VCS)
  • Unity Build Server: An on-premise solution to build Unity projects for any platform, with no scale or size limits

Optimize for your creative vision

We want you to bring your most ambitious projects to the consoles you see fit. That’s why Unity has an extensive content library when it comes to cross-platform development.

To make the most of each console’s capabilities, maximize their power, and boost performance, browse these e-books on advanced graphics and rendering:

Get to know your target console specifications

Each console has its own specialized features that developers should implement to ensure a smooth experience on their players’ respective platforms. Consider what you need to prepare your game properly:

Operate your game’s online features

Here are a couple of Unity Operate products that work well for consoles. Use them to continue serving your players long after your game has launched:

  • Vivox: Enable better cooperative and competitive multiplayer experiences by letting your players talk through in-game voice or text chat. Vivox also lets players communicate across multiple platforms.
  • Multiplay: Multiplay allows for hassle-free, game server hosting. Get your game up and running in minutes with global networking designed for any capacity, so you can seamlessly scale from ten to millions of players. Use Multiplay to focus on making your game the best it can be, with support from an experienced team of gaming specialists and an integrated matchmaker to accelerate development.

Learn the true costs of multiplatform development

Game development processes are full of unexpected roadblocks and bottlenecks that can cause expensive delays and costs. At Unity, we’ve helped thousands of creators take their games from concept to launch, and beyond. But don’t just take our word for it.

We recently gathered industry-leading experts to share their personal game creation experiences and advise on developing for multiplatform. Watch our free webinar to discover some of the most common mistakes that could derail your game development.

In this talk, experts from Unknown Worlds, Zoink, Radical Forge, and Aerial_Knight reveal tips and tricks to help you take on key challenges. Their discussion outlines:

  • What to account for in each development phase, including prototyping, preproduction, production, and launch
  • Practical examples of how they overcame developmental hurdles during game creation
  • Recommendations for prioritizing and achieving the milestones that matter
  • Aerial_Knight’s guidance on cutting gamedev costs

Game development for consoles requires careful preparation, project management, and the right tools for your aims. By knowing what to expect, you can cover all of your bases and get your team ready for cross-platform success.

Dive into even more console game development resources.

Nintendo Switch is a trademark of Nintendo.

October 27, 2022 in Games | 9 min. read

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