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The Universal GameDev Challenge tasked Unity developers to design a game for one of Universal’s beloved brands: Back to the Future, Jaws, Battlestar Galactica, Voltron Legendary Defender, or Turok.

The prize? A once in a lifetime opportunity for developers of any size to design a game with Universal brands, discover Intel, Microsoft, and Unity resources, and a have a shot at winning part of a massive $250,000 prize pool! To ensure our judges were as diverse and skilled as our amazing developer community, we brought together a team of experts on games, brands, and the industry!

  • Bob Gale, an Oscar®-nominated screenwriter-producer-director, best known as co-creator, co-writer and co-producer of the Back to the Future films
  • Kate Edwards, CEO and Principal Consultant at Geogrify, The Executive Director of Take This and former Executive Director of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
  • Lauren Montgomery, Co-executive Producer at DreamWorks TV and showrunner for DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender
  • Dean Takahashi, Lead Writer for GamesBeat

Over the course of six weeks, we received over 500 entries on Unity Connect from contestants in over 60 countries! Fantastic pitches, original game designs, and incredible passion shined through in each submission, making it a difficult task for our judges to pick a favorite.

Great Scott! Back to the Future inspired 26% of entries, followed closely by fan favorites Jaws, Turok, Voltron Legendary Defender and Battlestar Galactica

We started by screening all entries by both submission and eligibility criteria, to ensure our judges were only reviewing viable candidates. Then the hard part began, with a panel of staff judges diligently began applying our contest judging criteria to each and every entry. Finally, our guest judges rigorously applied the final scores, from which the average for each category was calculated.

“As I participated in the judging process for the Universal GameDev Challenge, I was assessing the entrants based on four primary factors: their creative use of the chosen brand, the core gameplay experience (narrative, art, audio, etc.), the capability of the team to actually deliver the proposed game, and their successful integration of available tools. Overall, I was incredibly impressed by the creative vision of all the finalists as expressed in their submitted pitch videos and game design documents. We have a really great group of talented game creators in this competition, and I’m anxious to see their ideas come to life.”

– Kate Edwards

“The Universal GameDev challenge is a fantastic approach to ‘get it right.’ Instead of just selling a license to a high bidder and hoping for the best, Universal went directly to passionate game designers and gave them the opportunity to choose a property that got them excited as a jumping off point to work their magic. And magic happened! The submissions were full of creativity, imagination, and originality, along with respect and love for the underlying IP. I only wish we could have had a dozen winners because there were so many intriguing proposals.”

– Bob Gale

“During the Universal GameDev Challenge finalists selection process, I was amazed at the creativity exhibited by the competitors. Each pitch had its own unique vision and seeing such incredible creators who were inspired by these properties was a very rewarding experience. I look forward to meeting with all of our finalists in July.”

– Lauren Montgomery

The six finalists will move on to Phase 2 of the challenge, where they will be invited to join the VIP Mentorship Summit: An exclusive, 3-Day event consisting of training and workshops at Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California where they will meet with Universal leadership, Unity evangelists, and Intel and Microsoft developer mentors!

Check out the six finalists below!

“Backpack to the Future” – Mick Heijkens

“Back to the Future IV – Time Anomalies” – Tom Breuer

“Battlestar Galactica Deception” – From the Future LLC

“Turok: Legacy of Stone” – Alexander Ferguson

“Voltron: Cubes of Olkarion” – Gbanga, Millform Inc

“Turok: Escape from Lost Valley” – Max Snyder

Follow their journey!

These six developers have two and a half months to develop a working first playable build of their winning concepts! Along the way, they will be sharing their progress on Unity Connect, building relationships with the development teams at Microsoft, Intel, and Universal, and working towards the final reveal at Unite LA on October 23, 2018!

Stay tuned for more news, and follow along on Unity Connect by keeping an eye on #GamesAreUniversal!

Legal Information
Back to the Future is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios and U-Drive Joint Venture. Licensed by Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. Battlestar Galactica is a copyright of Universal Cable Productions LLC. Licensed by Universal Studios 2018. All Rights Reserved. Jaws is a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios. Licensed by Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved. DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender © 2018 DreamWorks Animation LLC. TM World Events Productions, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Turok Son of Stone TM & © 2018 by Penguin Random House, Inc. Under license to Classic Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. Race to the bottom. A very cheap way to get a lot of content to curate and abuse the efforts of 500 (!) indie teams. Risrespectful. Congrats to the ones who won, and I hope they’ll be successful. But what a horrible idea from Universal and dissapointing to see Unity endorsing it. I bet someone will follow up and say it’s “a great way to put indies in a spotlight”, but really what it is is a way to dominate the business deal.

    1. We were all excited to offer developers of all sizes a chance to work with brands that are normally not accessible to them. Also, while we had over 500 entries, only the finalist (6) were made available to Universal as the teams move into the next round. As clearly stated in the contest terms, FAQ, and description, all the contestants’ entries/concepts remain their own property after the contest closed, with exception of the Universal IP. There are a lot of teams that didn’t become finalists that found the experience valuable and exciting, and plan to continue developing their concepts independently. Also, we are thrilled that our awesome Unity developers are now working on their prototypes for Phase 2!

      1. I have to agree with Jeroen. I’m sure unity3D didn’t do this to take advantages of 500+ creative teams, but the result is the same. 500 teams with just two members on every team using just 20 hours on the creative pitch. I’m guessing numbers here, but that’s 20.000 hours of wasted creative work. And I probably shot way under target. It’s called creative work, because it is WORK. It is unacceptable that big companies misuse their size to get creative inputs and publicity. And no, that the developers wouldn’t normally have a chance to develop for such a big client is absolutely no excuse. Last time it was Warner Bross. taking advantages of 3D modelers for “Ready Player One”. This misuse of creative people have to stop, and I’m really hoping to see creative companies like Unity3D take more responsibility. Please consider these things, I’m sure once you give it enough thought, you’ll change your mind and hopefully take a different approach in the future.

        1. Hey man if you’re upset you didn’t think of Unity or Universal that’s on you. Don’t get angry with them and their platform. It’s smart. If you had of thought of either of these companies you wouldn’t be complaining now. This is capitalism brah. If anything these brands have extended an open invitation to players at all levels – not just established developers. It’s not taking advantage of creatives – creatives are business people too. And smart business people know sometimes you spend money (or time and creative calories) to win money.

  2. I only count five finalists?

    1. Yes, it seems one of the teams was kicked out for some reason.

  3. Never received a single email, nothing confirming our entry received, nothing about that change of dates, nothing about the announcement of the winners.

  4. Michael Scott Shaffer

    June 1, 2018 at 3:38 am

    A question, how restrained are the non-qualifying submission teams as far as the NDA goes? How much are they allowed to disclose for the sake of, say, resume building, or portfolio building? Are the submitted works sealed for the sake of intents and purposes? Or are they released now that they have not qualified?

  5. This contest was scored on points and within 4 categories. Will you post judge scores to all contestants?
    Posting winner’s submissions is probably out of the question as this might spoil some secrets and at least one of those games will be finished. But at least having the scores could be quite useful to over 500 of the people who have not qualified.

    1. Hi Piotr! We really wish we could share feedback on all the entries, but unfortunately we don’t have the resources to socialize this information to all contestants. We realize people put a ton of work, passion and thought into each entry and we are really impressed by the efforts. Hopefully, you learned a lot about the process in general and would look forward to joining future challenges!

  6. The Jaws submission is a screenshot of the video game “Depth”. Does this person have the permission to use this?
    What a joke!

    1. Thank you for spotting this! My fault for pulling the competence title from their GDD :) It’s now been removed.

      1. seems like they definitely broke this rule for the GDD – should disqualify. i would have included screenshots of other games too :P “B. An entry may NOT contain any content or material that: … contains content which infringes another’s intellectual property, privacy, publicity or other rights or constitutes copyright infringement;”

        1. actually its worse than that, since they didnt just copy an image from “depth” they added some of their own HUD over it…

      2. Was the Turok artwork for the finalist in the video part of their submission? It looks like one of the Dark Horse comic covers https://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/17-365/Turok-Son-of-Stone-2

        1. Well spotted! What an absolute mess. Seems like a lot of entrants contained artwork which was not their own despite it saying in the rules that it was forbidden.

        2. Yes! Basing the idea off of the Turok Son of Stone comics was the idea, so we included Turok Son of Stone artwork in the video for that entry. We have full rights to do so as Universal owns those IP rights, it was a part of this contest and the point of their entry. I can see how that can be confusing since there are many incarnations of Turok that you all might not be familiar with :)

  7. Kevin Y. Nieves

    May 31, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    Congrats!! To all the winners!

  8. Congrats all! Great ideas!