Unity, the company behind the popular real-time 3D engine, today officially launched its Cloud Content Delivery service. This new service, which is engine-agnostic, combines a content delivery network and backend-as-a-service platform to help developers distribute and update their games. The idea here is to offer Unity developers -- and those using other game engines -- a live game service option that helps them get the right content to their players at the right time.
As Unity's Felix Thé noted, most game developers currently use a standard CDN provider, but that means they must also develop their own last-mile delivery service in order to be able to make their install and update process more dynamic and configurable. Or, as most gamers can attest, the developers simply opt to ship the game as a large binary and with every update, the user has to download that massive file again.
"That can mean the adoption of your new game content or any content will trail a little bit behind because you are reliant on people doing the updates necessary," Thé said.
And while the Cloud Delivery Service can be used across platforms, the team is mostly focusing on mobile for now. "We are big fans of focusing on a certain segment when we start and then we can decide how we want to expand. There is a lot of need in the mobile space right now -- more so than the rest," Thé said. To account for this, the Cloud Content Delivery service allows developers to specify which binary to send to which device, for example.
Having a CDN is one thing, but that last-mile delivery, as Thé calls it, is where Unity believes it can solve a real pain point for developers.
"CDNs, you get content. Period," Thé said. "But in this case, if you want to, as a game developer, test a build -- is this QA ready? Is this something that is still being QAed? The build that you want to assign to be downloaded from our Cloud Content Delivery will be different. You want to soft launch new downloadable content for Canada before you release it in the U.S.? You would use our system to configure that. It's really purpose-built with video games in mind."
The team decided to keep pricing simple. All developers pay for is the egress pricing, plus a very small fee for storage. There is no regional pricing either, and the first 50GB of bandwidth usage is free, with Unity charging $0.08 per GB for the next 50TB, with additional pricing tiers for those who use more than 50TB ($0.06/GB) and 500TB ($0.03).
"Our intention is that people will look at it and don't worry about 'what does this mean? I need a pricing calculator. I need to simulate what's it going to cost me,' but really just focus on the fact that they need to make great content," Thé explained.
It's worth highlighting that the delivery service is engine-agnostic. Unity, of course, would like you to use it for games written with the help of the Unity engine, but it's not a requirement. Thé argues that this is part of the company's overall philosophy.
"Our mission has always been centered around democratizing development and making sure that people -- regardless of their choices -- will have access to success," he said. "And in terms of operating your game, the decision of a gaming engine typically has been made well before operating your game ever comes into the picture. [...] Developer success is at the heart of what we want to focus on."