Interviews

Unity: We've dreamed of doing a deal like the Nintendo one

Wii U + Unity devs = excitement

Unity: We've dreamed of doing a deal like the Nintendo one
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You might wonder just who benefits the most from Unity and Nintendo's partnership – an alliance that will allow both Nintendo itself and third-party studios to utilise the engine for Wii U titles.

For Unity, the deal is a mark of the firm's continued expansion: support for another, likely rather popular platform added to its library as the roster of developers tapping into the engine continues to grow.

Nintendo, however, will benefit from the support of what is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant and creative development communities on the planet. As Unity CEO David Helgason suggests, the idea of the best studios making full use of Wii U's unique control methods is an exciting one.

We caught up with Helgason to find out what motivated the partnership, and how he sees it playing out in the years ahead.

Pocket Gamer: How did the licensing agreement with Nintendo come about? David Helgason: Like all deals – identifying strong mutual interests and lots of legwork.

Seriously though, we've actually had a dream of doing a deal like this since the early days of the company. Only now is our developer mind share strong enough for it to truly make sense to a tremendous ecosystem operator like Nintendo though.

The fact that we set up an office in Tokyo, the fact that it's led by industry luminary Shinobu Toyoda, and that we've lately had tremendous success in the Japanese game industry, were all contributing factors.

For the 1.2 million developers signed up for Unity, what kind of opportunities does Wii U present?

The details of this will be Nintendo's to announce, but we wouldn't have done this if we weren't excited about them!

How easy will Wii U games be easy to deploy through Unity? Are they likely to have far longer development times than mobile efforts?

As with all our other supported platforms, Unity isn't about making porting 'automatically'.

Rather, it's about allowing developers to focus on the interesting stuff, like gameplay and polishing the controls, making use of the hardware capabilities on the device, and all the other truly creative work - rather than the dreary and hard work of making things compile, then link, then QAing it to make it work at all.

However exactly how Nintendo will be curating the library and which types of games are going to be promoted on the Wii U is again Nintendo's to announce.

Is this evidence of barriers between different form factors being broken down? Do you think mobile developers, for instance, will feel at home on a home console like Wii U?

Yes, it'll be a pleasure to develop for for anyone who's worked with Unity in the past – and isn't that, like, everyone?

Could this be the beginning of a wider trend? Could you imagine expanding Unity support to further home consoles?

We'll announce new platforms and products when they're decided on and when we know they'll work.

Until then we are experimenting with all platforms and in talks with every single ecosystem operator out there.

On a personal level, what has caught your eye about Nintendo's console?

How ridiculously many interesting interaction modes I could imagine right away. Add thousands of developers and a few years, and just imagine how many new ideas will evolve. I'm pretty excited.

Thanks to David for his time.
Keith Andrew
Keith Andrew
With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font. He's also Pocket Gamer's resident football gaming expert and, thanks to his work on PG.biz, monitors the market share of all mobile OSes on a daily basis.