2022 was a big year for Unity Gaming Services (UGS). From bringing products out of beta in June to the multiplayer self-serve launch in September, a lot has happened over the last 12 months.
The initial release of UGS focused on common developer pain points, including backend infrastructure, player engagement, game growth, and monetization. But that was just the beginning.
In the last six months, we've shipped new features and products targeting developer resource optimization, workflow integration, engaging experiences, and new tools for success.
Read on to get an overview of what we've released since launch and to get an idea of what's next for UGS.
Game development is a resource-heavy venture, so it’s essential to find ways to reroute your time and resources into the actual gameplay and experience development.
In 2022, we launched tools and feature updates to help optimize your development resources, reduce the need for specialized development skill sets, and decrease the costs for software, services, and infrastructure.
In September 2022, our multiplayer services suite added self-serve functionality to bring AAA-level tools like Game Server Hosting (Multiplay) and Matchmaker to studios of any size, anywhere. No special networking or hosting experience are required.
The Game Server Hosting (Multiplay) update included Containers, which let you package your game server and all its dependencies as an image and upload it from your engine. Just push it to the registry, and Unity will do the rest. The self-serve functionality through the Unity Dashboard also provides a guided onboarding experience to help you avoid integration headaches.
If your multiplayer game will be using a P2P model instead of a dedicated game server (DGS), we also released Unity Relay in June 2022, which is an affordable option for hosting cooperative multiplayer titles. Relay offers simple and automatic scaling to meet your game’s needs, and communication is kept secure with Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS).
Every developer and studio has a preferred tech stack for building games, and UGS is designed to let you integrate with the tools, workflows, and data sources that you already use.
UGS recently delivered an important integration option in the Authentication space with Bring Your Own Identity (BYOID). As long as your identity system is OpenID compliant, you can integrate it into UGS Authentication to link your players across your game services. This solution works for both custom identity systems you might build in-house, as well as popular identity solutions such as Firebase, Cognito, and Epic Account Services. We also now support Meta Quest (Oculus) and Apple Game Center sign-ins.
To support cross-platform gaming on any device for your multiplayer titles, we introduced full support for Unity WebGL with our multiplayer solutions in 2022. You can now peer-host browser clients on any device with any other platform, like consoles and mobile. If you want to explore this exciting new feature, you may check out our packages for Relay (1.0.5+), UTP (2.0.0-pre3+) and NGO (1.2.0), along with Unity Editor 2022.2+.
If you’re using Mirror for your multiplayer networking in Unity, we have good news – in October, we released a Unity Mirror Sample to demonstrate using the Unity Transport Package (UTP) and Relay with the Mirror Networking API.
In an effort to improve your development workflows, we also released Cloud Code out of beta in 2022. Cloud Code enables you to make changes to your games code in real time in the cloud, without needing to release a new version of your game. You can also integrate with other UGS backend services like Economy and Authentication to improve the overall user experience.
If Unity is your engine of choice, there are enhanced integrations between the engine and UGS to improve your workflows. The updated authoring tools for Remote Config and Cloud Code allow for smoother integration with the Unity Editor, reducing the need to leave the Editor and manage a separate window, while allowing you to deploy assets directly in the Editor.
To deliver more engaging experiences for your players, we also focused time in 2022 on simplifying the process for adding more engagement features to your games.
Allowing players to chat in games is a great way to improve engagement and community building for multiplayer titles.
One major release in the communication space was the addition of optimized voice and text chat functionality through new features for mobile multiplayer titles with Voice and Text Chat (Vivox).
Voice on mobile allows cross-play with PC, Mac, and consoles, and it works well with Unity, Unreal, and any C++ game engine. Read more about these Voice and Text Chat (Vivox) updates in our blog post from July.
Another consideration for multiplayer titles is how your players actually connect for their game sessions. We released two products in 2022 to enable two different connection methods for your multiplayer games: Matchmaker self-serve and Lobby.
Matchmaker is our AAA-proven, smart matchmaking tool with self-serve functionality, added in September 2022. Key features include:
To put the matchmaking power in your players’ hands, player-driven matchmaking is available with our Lobby system. Lobby, which went out of beta in June, allows players to create public or private lobbies. It also offers quick-join functionality for players ready to jump into the fun.
To keep players coming back to your game, we’ve also introduced Push Notifications into beta. Push Notifications are used in conjunction with game events and can be used to share exciting updates to players about special or seasonal events, or to re-engage players who haven’t appeared in your game for a certain amount of time.
As the gaming industry grows more competitive, it’s become more important than ever before to keep players coming back for more. Tools in the UGS dashboard make it possible to understand how people play your game and adapt it based on that information.
In July, Unity Analytics came out of beta, allowing you to get deep-data insights to build a more engaging user experience.
Using Funnels, coupled with the reporting tools within Unity Analytics, can help to pinpoint changes that need to be made to your project, such as level difficulty or menu setup. With Cloud Content Delivery (CCD) and Economy Overrides, you can make targeted and scheduled changes to your CCD assets and Economy resources.
Game Overrides introduced plenty of updates last year, too, ranging from search mechanics and filters to custom priority for Overrides. This allows you to make changes to live-service games, such as adding new content for seasonal events or in-game stores to reduce churn rate and keep loyal players around for a long time.
Another update to the LiveOps tool came in the form of the calendar. Having a clear schedule for the next month, quarter, or year can ensure that events and notifications are overlapping in the right locations.
Releasing products and tools isn’t the only thing we focus on at Unity – seeing how they actually work in a game environment is key to understanding what developers’ projects might need. That’s why we released a variety of new and updated game samples in 2022 to help you dive into UGS offerings.
We partnered with Photon to develop a Unity-powered battle royale sample that allows you to understand how to build your own fast-paced battle royale game – BR200. Using the Unity game engine, Game Server Hosting (Multiplay), and Matchmaker, this sample offers the latest features and game modes for large-scale multiplayer games. It uses Photon Fusion's powerful features such as prediction and lag compensation to build a complex multiplayer game with less CPU and bandwidth usage.
The sample includes features like:
In August of 2022, we released a new 2D multiplayer game sample, called Galactic Kittens, in which up to four players work together to defeat space-faring enemies.
Galactic Kittens uses basic Network Manager settings to easily test over localhost. It’s designed to help you learn how to apply and synchronize sprite animations, particle effects, and basic 2D movement.
Boss Room is a 3D small-scale cooperative game sample project built with Netcode for GameObjects. It was updated in 2022 to also leverage Relay, Lobby, and Authentication from UGS. The combination of these backend solutions provides a solid foundation for cooperative game development, and developers can dive into Boss Room’s updated code to get a head start on building a similar title.
The sample game features a variety of UGS tools in a production-ready environment, so you can learn about multiplayer game development and explore the implementation of character abilities, use casting animations to hide latency, replicate objects, leverage Remote Procedure Calls (RPCs), and more.
In 2022, we also revealed our upcoming sample covering Authentication, Cloud Save, Cloud Code, Economy, and Remote Config in a 2D collectible card game. Stay tuned for more information this year as we work to release it to the public.