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January 14, 2010 in Technology by

2010 Trends – Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason
We’re living in exciting times, and in some ways we here at Unity Technologies are in a unique position to be part of them. Here are the trends that we think are most important for the Unity community as a whole in 2010 along with what you can do to be part of
We’re living in exciting times, and in some ways we here at Unity Technologies are in a unique position to be part of them. Here are the trends that we think are most important for the Unity community as a whole in 2010 along with what you can do to be part of them.

Without further ado.

The Year of Gamification, Part 1
We call the adoption of game technology and game design methods outside of the games industry “gamification”, and this is a really broad trend.

Unity and other game technologies are being used across more than a dozen sectors that have little or nothing to do with games. Architectural visualization is an obvious and older example. But apart from that we have some of the world’s biggest engineering and manufacturing companies, as well as several actual armed forces as our customers. TV production companies use Unity and other game engines to produce live TV shows and Machinima videos. Big corporations make employee training and simulation applications using Unity, and some of our customers have gone into online meeting and collaboration. Game technology being applied to all these areas means that Unity users are valuable to many and not everyone has to make a living from games.

Action item: Sell your skills outside the games industry. With a knowledge of other industries, you can create new and innovative products or businesses servicing these industries. The sky’s the limit.

The Year of Gamification, Part 2
A second aspect of gamification is that game design methods and strategies are being used outside of games to design better products and user experiences. A boring site like Mint.com has experimented with turning personal finance into a game, social networking experiment FourSquare maintains high-score lists for people who bar-crawl, and natural-language search startup Siri hired an accomplished game designer to design their user experience.

Action item: Learn game design and apply it to everything – how people sign up for a website, how people “succeed” in using your product, how customers share it with their friends and become leaders of user groups/clans, etc. Game design can be used for all of this.

Another Golden Age for Garage Developers
We are definitely going to see even more quality games done by small teams in 2010. With very little risk and by mainly investing their own time, a small team of 1-2 people can make a hit game that will sell millions of units. More importantly (and what makes this different than 4 years ago), there are now many more channels through which to distribute and sell such a game. Many such games are receiving world-wide acclaim.

Action item: Find an awesome partner and go create!

Publishers Continue to be Valuable
With casual, online and mobile games requiring smaller production budgets and eschewing retail (and thus expensive and slow) distribution in exchange for digital, the game industry was expecting to get rid of the publisher as a concept.

But as the iPhone ecosystem clearly proves (as well as the web somewhat less clearly with portals like Shockwave.com and distribution companies like Zynga and RockYou), the publishers stay. Though they may not be forwarding cash and fully owning the game IPs, their expertise in marketing, game design and online distribution metrics and strategies make them a valuable, if no longer totally required, partner to the game developer.

Action item: Consider working with a publisher. Fortunately with publishers’ leverage lessened, they are typically less demanding with regards to what they have to own (IP, sequel rights, revenue share). Or become your own publisher by building that expertise. This is not a simple task, but has been done by some of the top online game developers.

Everything Becomes a “Console”
This one is somewhat controversial. It seemed that with the move towards mobile and web, the closed ecosystems of the console world would be under siege and eventually collapse. What game developer (except perhaps the ones most entrenched in with the Nintendos-Microsoft-Sony trinity) hasn’t fantasized about this walled garden having its walls rammed down?

Well, welcome to the new world. The iPhone has proven that given the right amount of “openness”, neither consumers nor developers really mind closed platforms.

Even on the anarchic web (regions of which remind one more of a Mad-Maxian post-apocalyptical cyberspace than an enlightened utopia), Facebook is in the process of creating a closed environment within which consumers and game developers can meet and exchange fun and money (more or less) safely.

This section could also have been labeled “the Rise of the AppStore Model”, since it’s more the App Store than the gaming console which inspires this megatrend. And framed like that, it might have made people happy. But this is a problematic trend (to say the least) that should make us stop to think.

Action item: Make use of this. Or if you’re brave, build your own!

Facebook Wallet, Apple Tablet, Unity on Facebook
And then are the obvious ones.

Of course Apple will launch its tablet. We even know the screen-size and CPU make. The only uncertainly left is what day it launches. And its price.

Surely Facebook will launch a payment platform which in tandem with Facebook Connect will dramatically transform the face of microtransactions on the internet. If they do this right, it will finally enable the web-wide microtransactions which we’ve been dreaming of since the dot-com era.

And of course Unity will be big on Facebook. Several major games will get launched on Facebook, offering awesome games to hundreds of millions of people (not to mention significantly moving the needle on adoption of the Unity plugin).

Action item: Left as an exercise for the reader :)

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15 Jan 2010, 12:58 am

I think at Facebook is only one part of the social web (obviously the biggest) but with mySpace, Orkut, Bebo, Hi5 and Friendster the Unity developer can find a mass audience for niche titles.

15 Jan 2010, 1:09 am

Good point Glen!

15 Jan 2010, 1:45 am

From a product design point of view Gamification. Part 2 as you put it is definitely a powerful trend. As it becomes increasingly important for all products to provide an enjoyable, even addictive user experience game design is definitely gaining importance beyond the entertainment industry.

Great post

15 Jan 2010, 1:59 am

Excellent post, David!

I thought the publisher analysis was spot-on. Even the greatest and most successful indies out there today have a lot to learn about things like marketing and usability.

Something e.g. web developers are being very well educated in nowadays.

Garret Romaine
15 Jan 2010, 2:47 am

I think the idea of learning gaming design and applying it to everything is very perceptive. Game developers are often the first to solve complex user interface issues, and their solutions often stand the test of time. Thanks for taking the time to put the list together!

15 Jan 2010, 8:36 am

Good read, thanks.

I think that 2010 will be the year of the webplayer. With so many new developers using Unity I hope this year is the breakthrough in terms of installation base. The experiment on Kongregate has shown that there is still more work to do getting the name “Unity” also into the users heads as trusted brand and not as “some weird plugin” (citing one user). I’ll do my very best to archieve that with a game on Shockwave, more games on Facebook and launching first-time Unity games on the european Facebook alternative Netlog.com.

Regarding publishers I can only fully agree. The golden first year of the iPhone is over and again (visible) shelf space is limited even though we are in the app store and that makes publisher again being THE partner to the developer.

Let’s go and rock this new decade united! :-)

Ashkan
15 Jan 2010, 2:48 pm

i think if you add a HTML browser to web player then it will be used in many web sites for gamification of many applications in terms of design and development. think of a sign up page that has 3D arround it. it can be done with unity now but is harder than adding an HTML page to a unity project. also it can help indie developers because they can use ingame ads easily. 2010 will be the year of web player and i am sure that we’ll have much more web player downloads.

15 Jan 2010, 6:28 pm

As an instructor and user of Unity3D, the recognition that this tool has implications far reaching outside of game development is refreshing. I encourage my students to think outside of games, not excluding game development, but to look around to see what is possible in other industries, instead of waiting for someone to show them the way. In my professional experience Unity3d is a great platform for interactive development, digital signage. We are working on all of these types of solutions for our clients, as well as brainstorming on how we can create new industry here in Western North Carolina. Looking forward to where the Unity3d guys help take us next. Great post David!

15 Jan 2010, 6:53 pm

@C. Michael Neely: spot on, while Unity is focused on being a game development there are many uses outside of the game space and we’ll be taking steps to help promote that, educate folks more, etc. We certainly don’t want to lose any of our “gaming edge”, but the feature set overlaps between those groups nicely and so it’s really about outreach and evangelism more than anything else.

Good stuff David!

15 Jan 2010, 11:21 pm

> Sell your skills outside the games industry. With a knowledge of
> other industries, you can create new and innovative products or
> businesses servicing these industries. The sky’s the limit.

Very true. The toy industry is now making a grab at this type of talent with all the new technology going into toys. We are actually hosting Engage Expo (feb. 16-17 in NYC) with this in mind. Engage! brings together the leaders from the technology, toy, game and entertainment industries and provides critical cross-industry learning and valuable new business partnership and networking opportunities.

18 Jan 2010, 10:23 am

Well said fearless leader ! :-)

The part about publishers is very true, and what is also interesting is, that publishers in this new model become more specialised and less risk adverse.

Publishers in this new model will focus on the marketing and distribution aspects of publishing, and withdraw a bit from the funding and development partner roles, which I see as a good thing: In that way, the publisher-developer relation becomes more of an equal partnership, where each partner focusses on their own expertise. Publishers can afford to spread out to more titles, and sice they invest less risk in each title, can also afford to spread their portfolio to include more diverse games. this makes for a larger, more diverse base of games and game types for the customers to play.

Unfortunately, as Appstore is also evidence for, this doesn’t necesarily mean *better* games :-).

3D Web Master
18 Jan 2010, 7:53 pm

When is a WebGL support comes from Unity3D?

WebGL Fan
21 Jan 2010, 11:01 am

When is a WebGL support comes from Unity3D?

Heywood Yablowme
22 Jan 2010, 2:34 pm

“With very little risk and by mainly investing their own time, a small team of 1-2 people can make a hit game that will sell millions of units.”

Care to give a few examples to support that claim….?

22 Jan 2010, 6:33 pm

@Heywood: e.g. Zombieville for iPhone was done by 2 guys, I think. I don’t know exact sales, but it sold very well.

John Wilson
24 Jan 2010, 4:40 am

@Aras,

Actually, Zombieville was done by one guy and one gal I believe!

marek
27 Jan 2010, 11:43 pm

“Several major games will get launched on Facebook”

I’d be more than glad to know what are those games.

My team pitched a game for FB based on Unity Pro to some kind of a big developer with rich experience of web apps and games. They were pretty delighted by the idea of the game but also very negative about the need of installing unity web plugin.

They claim that penetration level of that plugin is too low (20% at most). I read about good presentation of instalation process and successful stories with 70-80% of penetration. So I’m pretty convinced we could gather big enaough group of players ang monetize our app. But I need to convinve them (developer/investon) and there is a chance. They said they would agree to use unity technology if they see any other big developer goes that way, or any other “serious” games existing on FB.

So if you can share any information about “the titles” please do it :)

12 Feb 2010, 1:14 am

I must agree with Ashkan. WE are true Gamificators, having developed a suite of interactive self managed art galleries that galleries, museums and artist can use to design, create and publish exhibitions to web in 3D.
It would be really helpful if Firefox had the Unity player embedded within in some way so that new users felt okay about installing the web player on their machines.
No doubt you have heard about ONLIVE… what are the possibilities that Unity could be on their servers. As I understand it this would mean that viewers would not need to download any player… not sure if I’m right there.
I would also be interested to know if you have any metrics on the reluctance of people to install the Unity web player?
Do you have any plans this way… because i think this is the single biggest hurdle we as Gamificators face today. :D Cheers Peter from New Zealand

Dominic Mason
24 Feb 2010, 11:53 am

+1 for the ‘not just Facebook’ POV, while it might be 65%+ of soc nets activity in USA/EU who can afford to ignore 35% of their market or the ROW? Also, ‘Open Social’ isn’t dead it’s just plateauing.

Dominic Mason
24 Feb 2010, 7:14 pm

http://jalopnik.com/photogallery/FordSmartGauge/1004253712

The ‘gamification’ of the Ford Fusion Hybrid display. Drive more efficiently, grow a plant.

15 Sep 2010, 4:28 am

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