Four things we learned from Unity's Unite 11 conference

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Four things we learned from Unity's Unite 11 conference
The Unite 11 conference, held in San Francisco, focused on the Unity multiplatform middleware, specifically how to use it now and where it is going.

However, there were also lots of insights dropped. Here are the biggest trends we discovered during the three-day affair.

1. Going 'mobile' means mobile, browsers and consoles

Creating a universal app used to mean taking advantage of the iPhone/iPod and iPad, while a traditional multiplatform app was software ported to various phones and tablets.

Now, however, your horizon should be beyond this as developers create games that cross not only devices, but mediums.

For instance, Owlchemy Labs released the cult hit Smuggle Truck/Snuggle Truck on the iPhone/iPod, iPad, Mac, and PC simultaneously. Just as notably, it also released the game on Flash-based Kongregate, so virtually any gamer could play it day one.

Using middleware such as Unity means developers can target pretty much any hardware, and the trend goes beyond Unity too, with the Unreal Engine and other middleware technology supporting similar functionality. 

2. Leave the rest behind

Developers used to support phones for a notoriously long time. Despite the smartphone revolution, if you have a J2ME or BREW-based phone, you can still get new games on a weekly basis. But we can expect this to change very soon.

First, of course, is the advent of middleware that simply doesn't support older or simpler phone models. Second, smartphones are becoming more prominent than feature phones every day.

Most importantly, though, developers are bumping up real limitations in older smartphones or even new devices that don't support a certain level of functionality; typically graphics features.

The good news is there are enough quality devices that such hardware can be ignored without too much worry.  

3. Apple doesn’t have the only money-making store

Unite 11 talks reminded us that Apple doesn’t have the only money-making store around.

At the keynote, the Unity founders said more than $140,000 in monthly sales is now being generated in the Unity Asset Store.

By selling assets to help other developers make their games, the top merchant is making more than $20,000 per month and the top 15 are averaging about $5,000 per month.

Progress in Barnes & Noble's NOOK development as well as the upcoming Amazon Fire will show how other app and asset stores will thrive.

4. Cloud gaming is now

As argued during the Unite 11 keynote address, Diablo creator David Brevik said cloud-based gaming was a key trend. 

Your intention needs to be not to give gamers an excuse not to play your game.

This means making your game fully accessible on computers, phones, and tablets, or it could also mean making parts of your title playable on every platform.

For example, for Brevik’s PC title Super Hero Squad Online, his company Gazillion Entertainment is making the card battle portion of the game playable on phones.

But regardless of how much of your game is available on each platform, it is clear that a cloud-based system must be implemented to keep stats consistent across each medium.

Damon Brown has been speaking the mobile game gospel since 2003 for Playboy, New York Post, and many other outlets. Damon writes books
when he isn't busy gaming or Twittering. His most popular book is Porn & Pong: How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and Other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture.


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