Unity (game engine)

Not to be confused with Unity (user interface).
Developer(s) Unity Technologies
Initial release 1.0 / June 8, 2005 (2005-06-08)
Stable release
5.5.0 / November 30, 2016 (2016-11-30)
Written in

C, C++ (Runtime)

C#, JavaScript (or UnityScript), Boo (Unity API)[1]
Operating system


Platform IA-32, x86-64
Available in English
Type Game engine
License Proprietary
Website unity3d.com

Unity is a cross-platform game engine developed by Unity Technologies[5] and used to develop video games for PC, consoles, mobile devices and websites. First announced only for OS X, at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in 2005, it has since been extended to target 21 platforms.[6][7] Nintendo provides free licenses of Unity 5 to all licensed Nintendo Developers along with their software development kits (SDKs) for the Wii U and Nintendo 3DS Family.[8][9]

Five major versions of Unity have been released. At the 2006 WWDC show, Apple named Unity as the runner up for its Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics category.


With an emphasis on portability, the engine targets the following APIs: Direct3D on Windows and Xbox 360; OpenGL on Mac, Linux, and Windows; OpenGL ES on Android and iOS; and proprietary APIs on video game consoles. Unity allows specification of texture compression and resolution settings for each platform that the game engine supports,[6] and provides support for bump mapping, reflection mapping, parallax mapping, screen space ambient occlusion (SSAO), dynamic shadows using shadow maps, render-to-texture and full-screen post-processing effects.[10] Unity's graphics engine's platform diversity can provide a shader with multiple variants and a declarative fallback specification, allowing Unity to detect the best variant for the current video hardware and, if none are compatible, to fall back to an alternative shader that may sacrifice features for performance.[11]

Unity is notable for its ability to target games to multiple platforms. Within a project, developers have control over delivery to mobile devices, web browsers, desktops, and consoles.[6][12] Supported platforms include Android, Apple TV,[13] BlackBerry 10, iOS, Linux, Nintendo 3DS line,[14][15][16] OS X, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Unity Web Player (including Facebook[17]), Wii, Wii U, Windows Phone 8, Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. It includes an asset server and Nvidia's PhysX physics engine. Unity Web Player is a browser plugin that is supported in Windows and OS X only,[18] which has been deprecated in favor of WebGL.[3] Unity is the default software development kit (SDK) for Nintendo's Wii U video game console platform, with a free copy included by Nintendo with each Wii U developer license. Unity Technologies calls this bundling of a third-party SDK an "industry first".[8][19]


Unity comes with four license options.[20] Here is the list of all available licenses and their differences:

License Name All Engine Features and Updates Cloud Build Queue All Platforms Performance Reporting Pro features (UI, Splash, etc.) Source code access Premium Support
Personal Yes Standard Yes No No No No
Plus Yes Priority Yes Yes Yes No No
Pro Yes Concurrent Builds Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Enterprise Yes Dedicated Build Agents Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes


In 2012, VentureBeat said, "Few companies have contributed as much to the flowing of independently produced games as Unity Technologies. ... More than 1.3 million developers are using its tools to create gee-whiz graphics in their iOS, Android, console, PC, and web-based games. ... Unity wants to be the engine for multi-platform games, period."[8]

For the Apple Design Awards at the 2006 WWDC trade show, Apple, Inc. named Unity as the runner-up for its Best Use of Mac OS X Graphics category, a year after Unity's launch at the same trade show.[21] Unity Technologies says this is the first time a game design tool has ever been nominated for this award.[22] A May 2012 survey by Game Developer magazine indicated Unity as its top game engine for mobile platforms.[23] In July 2014, Unity won the "Best Engine" award at the UK's annual Develop Industry Excellence Awards.[24]

Unity 5 was met with similar praise, with The Verge stating that "Unity started with the goal of making game development universally accessible.... Unity 5 is a long-awaited step towards that future."[25]

Following the release of Unity 5, Unity Technologies drew some criticism for the high volume of quickly produced games published on the Steam distribution platform by inexperienced developers.[26] CEO John Riccitiello said in an interview that he believes this to be a side-effect of Unity's success in democratizing game development: “If I had my way, I’d like to see 50 million people using Unity – although I don’t think we’re going to get there any time soon. I’d like to see high school and college kids using it, people outside the core industry. I think it’s sad that most people are consumers of technology and not creators. The world’s a better place when people know how to create, not just consume, and that’s what we’re trying to promote."[27]

Regarding the development of the game Firewatch, Wired said "[Unity] has more customizable features than other engines and does a better job rendering elements like the layered colors featured in the key art. To alter the game’s look during reviews, [Ollie] Moss would literally paint over screenshots, adding rocks to one scene or enhancing the color in another."[28]


On December 16, 2013, Unity Technologies Japan revealed new screenshots for an official mascot character named Unity-chan (ユニティちゃん Yuniti-chan), real name Kohaku Otori (大鳥 こはく Ōtori Kohaku) (voiced by Asuka Kakumoto), with exhibit of the character in Comic Market 85 event in the Tokyo Big Sight between December 29 to the 31st, where themed goods would be distributed and her voice actress would be present at the event. The character's associated game data were to be released in spring 2014.[29][30][31] The character was designed by Unity Technologies Japan designer 'ntny' as an open-source heroine character.[32] The company allows the use of Unity-chan and related characters for use in secondary projects under certain licenses.[33] For example, Unity-chan appears as a playable character in Runbow.[34] The popularity of the character also led to her to appear in Vocaloid adaptions, including her own sound library for Vocaloid 4 and a special adaption of Vocaloid designed to work with the Unity Engine 5.0 version called Unity with Vocaloid.

See also


  1. Is Unity Engine written in Mono/C#? or C++
  2. "Unity Comes to Linux: Experimental Build Now Available". Unity Technologies Blog.
  3. 1 2 "Unity Web Player Roadmap". Unity Technologies Blog.
  4. "System Requirements". Unity Technologies.
  5. Riccitiello, John (October 23, 2014). "John Riccitiello sets out to identify the engine of growth for Unity Technologies (interview)". VentureBeat (Interview). Interview with Dean Takahashi. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  6. 1 2 3 "Unity - Multiplatform". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  7. "How Unity3D became a game-development beast". Slashdot.org. Dice. June 3, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  8. 1 2 3 Helgason, David (November 2, 2012). "Game developers, start your Unity 3D engines". GamesBeat (Interview). Interview with Dean Takahashi. VentureBeat. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  9. "Homepage - Nintendo Developer Portal". developer.nintendo.com. Retrieved 2016-08-23.
  10. "Using DirectX11 in Unity 4". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  11. "Shaders". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  12. "Unleash your game with effortless deployment to 10 global platforms". Unity Technologies. Retrieved February 19, 2013.
  13. "Release Notes of Unity 5.3.1". unity3d.com. December 18, 2015. Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  14. "UNITY TO SUPPORT NEW NINTENDO 3DS AND NEW NINTENDO 3DS XL". Unity Technologies. April 13, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  15. P, Jenna (April 13, 2015). "Unity Support is Heading to the New Nintendo 3DS". IGN. Retrieved May 6, 2015.
  16. "Unity Europe Announces New 3DS Details". NintendoWorldReport. August 13, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
  17. "Unity technologies releases Facebook functionality update to unity 4". MarketWatch.com. March 26, 2013. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  18. "Unity Web Player".
  19. McElroy, Griffin (August 20, 2013). "Unity for Wii U opens up GamePad hardware and more to developers". Polygon. Retrieved August 4, 2014.
  20. "New Unity products and prices launching soon". blogs.unity3d.com. Unity. May 31, 2016. Retrieved September 26, 2016.
  21. Smykill, Jeff (August 9, 2006). "Apple Design Award winners announced". ArsTechnica. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  22. "Unity Technologies Celebrates Five Years of Continual Leadership and Innovation in Making Cutting Edge Game Technology" (Press release). San Francisco, CA: Gamasutra. June 7, 2010. Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  23. "Mobile game developer survey leans heavily toward iOS, Unity". Gamasutra. May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  24. "Winners". Develop Online. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  25. "Unity officially releases its new game engine: Unity 5". The Verge. Retrieved November 26, 2015.
  26. "Unity - does indie gaming's biggest engine have an image problem?". The Guardian. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  27. "The chaos of democracy". Develop Online. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  28. "Why Firewatch's makers were so secretive about their game". Wired. February 9, 2016. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  29. "ユニティ・テクノロジーズ・ジャパン、開発者向けに無償利用可能なキャラクター『ユニティちゃん』を発表 コミックマーケット85にも出展、3Dモデルデータなどを来春提供予定".
  30. ""Unity"開発者向けに無償利用可能なキャラクター"ユニティちゃん"が来春デビュー!".
  31. "Meet Unity-chan, the Unity Engine's New Mascot in Japan".
  32. "Unity Japan Introduces Their Mascot, Unity-Chan, And How She Was Made".
  34. Nintendo Life. "Exclusive: Check Out Runbow's Complete Cast of Colourful Crossover Characters". Nintendo Life. Retrieved November 27, 2015.

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