If you’re new to the indie game development scene. Or a beginner when it comes to making games. You’ve come to the right place. Here we will answer some of the early questions people have when first thinking about getting into making their own game!
What is Unity?
To put it simply, Unity is a game engine. A cross-platform game engine. Meaning you can choose the platform you want to publish your game on. Perhaps you only want to target the iPhone market. Or maybe you are strictly releasing to Steam on PC. The great thing about Unity is it allows you to choose your target devices to roll out your game onto.
Unity has a major focus on non-programming game creators. So many of the tools, scripts, and assets can get you through most of your game building without the usual needed programming knowledge.
Unity works on 30 platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation just to name a few.
Another great thing is Unity itself works on PC, Mac, and Linux. Giving that much more flexibility to it’s users.
Unity Is the Biggest in the Industry
Unity has the biggest market share of developers. There’s just no way around it. And they are biggest for a reason. Ease of use for beginners and unlimited potential are some excellent starting points.
Just how big is Unity? It has been reported nearly half of all games made today are developed on Unity. Especially dominating the mobile sector. With it’s engine reportedly capturing 60% to 70% of all mobile games.
Unity Has Unprecedented Support
What happens when you have the largest market share with a particular product? Everyone helps everyone. Unity’s support is great. But what really makes Unity is it’s community. There are so many developers out their making posts on forums or coming up with novel scripts on GitHub.
You would be really hard pressed to find an issue that couldn’t be solved with a simple google or a posted question on the forums. And this is a big key to success as a developer.
Unity Is Free
This is absolutely huge. It’s free* to a point. Luckily for you, a small time developer, it’s free until you make a substantial amount of money. How much money? After earning $100,000 within a calendar year, you would have to upgrade to Unity Plus. Which is only $35 per month. After earning that much, we’re pretty sure you would have room in your budget.
After earning over $200,000 in a calendar year you would have to upgrade to their Unity Pro plan. Which is a little pricier at $125 per month. Again, if you’re earning above that amount, it’s a good problem to have.
Unity vs Unreal
Both are incredibly powerful engines. It used to be for top of the line high definition graphics that scaled well with performance, Unreal used to be the obvious choice. Key upgrades to the framework of Unity has allowed it to catch up to Unreal in terms of graphics and performance.
A huge thought to give is a comparison in pricing if your game is successful. We talked about licensing for Unity earlier if you earn over a certain amount. Unreal has a much lower threshold. After earning $3000 within a quarter, you are automatically on a percentage based revenue share. Unreal will receive 5% of gross revenue. This amount sounds small but can be huge if you’re game really takes off.
Let’s say your game makes $10,000 on release, that means you’re automatically paying $500. Not a huge payment necessarily, but the numbers definitely scale better with Unity being free until $100,000 in earnings. By the time you hit that number with Unity you would be paying Unreal $5000.
In another scenario, lets say you earn $300,000 in a year from a successful indie game. Even if you had 5 employees, and you had to license 5 seats in Unity, that would equal $7500 for the year. Unreal taking gross profits from those earnings would be $15,000. The difference isn’t enough to necessarily make or break an engine choice, but it’s definitely a good thing to consider the price when scaling economies.
I know we prefer a base price vs a total percentage of our profits when it comes to our release cycle on games.
Unity vs Godot
Godot is another great little game engine and platform that has come out in recent years. One of the great things about Godot is the platform is open source. Unlike Unity. This allows you to be part of a community that can help shape the engine as it grows.
Unfortunately since Godot is still so new, it lacks a lot of the features that a multi billion dollar company like Unity can afford to keep it’s platform ultra competitive. There is so much more quality of life improvements that Unity has over Godot. And a wealth of development features that simply don’t exist on Godot yet.
Godot will eventually be a thriving game engine. But if you’re looking for the easiest route to releasing a full game, Unity is still the platform to stick with for now. Most likely for the next decade at it’s current rate of expansion with it’s successful rounds of seed funding.
Unity Has the Unity Asset Store
One extremely powerful part of Unity is they established an incredible market place for assets early on in their development. This really helped cement them as a great starter place for beginners. With so many independent publishers filling so many niche needs with amazing assets.
As of writing this in February of 2020, the Unity Asset Store has over 50,000 high quality asset’s to assist developers in streamlining their projects to completion. To compare to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, they currently lag behind with only a little over 10,000 assets.
Those numbers alone should show you where the developers are currently residing. The publishers will go where the most developers exist. Supply and demand. And demand for the Unity engine is at an all-time high.
Be A Unity Publisher
The Unity Asset Store is not only great for developers looking for competitively priced assets and tools. Anyone can sign up to be a publisher and start listing assets of their own!
This can be a great side hustle for income while you develop your game. Or if you’re skilled enough, some publishers have made this their main source of income.
Other companies have entirely funded their game development just from listing assets they’ve made while creating a game.
Unity Themselves Publish Free Assets
A lot of developers don’t know how easy it is to start prototyping their games. Some publishers on the Unity Asset Store provide assets for free. It’s not just the independents though. Unity themselves has a huge library of incredible assets for free for you to download and use royalty free in your game. At the very least these are incredible for testing purposes. It ranges from a bunch of free poly style 3d objects for free. To complete projects!
Here is just a small sample of what they offer.
Unity Has Built in Analytics
If you’re a numbers junkie and like to see how players interact within your game, Unity has an incredible built in solution that’s free. It’s not enabled by default, but in a few steps you can set up numerous events to track.
It’s a great way to keep track of where players drop off within your game. Also a great detection system of possible hard to find errors and crashes after patch updates.
Should You Build Your Indie Game in Unity?
Ever developer’s situation is usually a unique case. But if you are looking for the best way to start developing an indie game without much programming knowledge, then yes. Yes you should start building your game with Unity. It’s massive market share and world wide support of the platform is unquestionable.
Getting started is very easy. Just download the Personal Edition of Unity for free.
Or if you want to really go all in and get started with Plus Edition of Unity. Fairly affordable at $35 per month.