Unity co-founders Helgason and Francis warn advancing mobile tech will lead to 'diminishing returns' for developers

Unity co-founders Helgason and Francis warn advancing mobile tech will lead to 'diminishing returns' for developers
The advent of new gaming hardware might spell bigger and flashier titles for consumers, but when it comes to the developer's side of the equation, teams grow and costs rise.

By the same token, while iPhone 4S wowed onlookers at Apple's Let's Talk iPhone event thanks to the appearance of Infinity Blade 2, others worried whether the new power being packed into mobile handsets might quash the indie scene in years to come.

Indeed, Hiive's Andrew Rollings – who detailed such concerns on these very pages at the start of the week – isn't alone in such thoughts.

Adding to the debate, Unity Technologies co-founders David Helgason and Nicholas Francis have given their thoughts on the subject, suggesting sooner or later mobile devices will have to rein in their tech lest developers face diminishing returns.

Platform wars

"If Sony and Microsoft did the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720, they would completely blow mobiles out of the water, and that's good if you want to make those big experiences," said Unity CCO Francis, speaking at Unite 11.

"But having something that's much more powerful than an Xbox in my cell phone? What am I going to do with that? It's a small screen, I'm playing on the bus, everything is shaking, there's light coming in.

"With mobile, I can see a point in making them two or four times as powerful, but after that it's diminishing returns."

Francis also took the bold step of predicting home consoles will enjoy just one more generation before they die out – a take that echos the views of Mobile Pie's Will Luton, who believes the likes of iOS 5's AirPlay Mirroring suggest Apple is looking to take over the living room.

Room for more

Unity CEO Helgason also chipped in to add his thoughts on the necessities of mobile games development – an area he doesn't seem changing too much, even if mobiles do supersede home consoles.

"What doesn't go away is the need for great workflows - the ability to put in a lot of complex content into scenes," he said.

"That may run out at some point, but we can think of so many ways we can improve that experience.

"We have already made it possible for like 10 times more people to approach game tools than before, and there's probably another 10 times more."


When Matt was 7 years old he didn't write to Santa like the other little boys and girls. He wrote to Mario. When the rotund plumber replied, Matt's dedication to a life of gaming was established. Like an otaku David Carradine, he wandered the planet until becoming a writer at Pocket Gamer.


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