Gaming Your Way

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Unity3D business model ? Seems Blurst have found it

We've made no secret of loving Unity. We cuddle up to it. We watch rom-coms with it and feign interest. Hell, we'd lick it if we could.

But as we've fallen more head over heels it's just highlighted the fact that there's no tried and trusted business model for it yet. There's no mochi, there's no big ass portal wanting to pay for that shiny shiny 3D gameplay, shit there's not even sponsors with their $500 plus source code offers.

The handful of Flash game studios like ourselves who are looking to Unity I assume are following a similar pattern, knock out some nice generic games with some added wow, and then offer it as an alternative [ To Flash ] to clients with the added carrot of an iphone version of the game. So in effect you take a hit on the costs of making the actual game ( Unless you're lucky and can get a decent budget ) but make that back via the iphone version ( One code base, one set of assets, two games to charge for ).

Flashbang have a different idea via their Blurst site, and to be honest it's a real epiphany moment reading about it.

The full article is on the Wall Street Journals site ( Which is quite a wow in itself ) and can be found here.

To cover the key points before you go shooting off over there, the idea is that you have "True fans", the fans who really dig your stuff ( A great article which is linked to in the above article can be found directly here )
"A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author - in other words, anyone producing works of art - needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living."
They have calculated that by using a subscription based model they only need 5000 people signing up every six months. That pays for their 6 staff.

In theory that's so simple it's brilliant. Ok it's nothing new, but it's just seeing the maths laid out so simply just makes it feel viable.

We've touched on downloadable versions before, and the general feeling was that very few people will pay for Flash no matter how good it is, because there's just so much free stuff out there and Flash games demographic in terms of indie players seem to be the younger end of the market ( Although that could be skewed due to the younger end of the market being the most vocal ) who
a) Don't have as much disposable income.
b) Have the mindset of "If it's on the net it should be free".
But with Unity your downloadable game can be so much more. Enough to encourage people to subscribe to get it ? Maybe, maybe not. There are more alternatives to just giving a exe version of a game though. Subscribe to gywGames and in our racing game we'll let you design your own livery, and you can take a snapshot which all your friends can see when you're logged on to the site, hell, they can even vote for it.

It's that divergence of media that will sell a subscription. The level editor that's unlocked once you join. That comp to win a psp when you're subscribed. It's allowing players to be that little bit more than players, to let them have a direct effect on the game they're playing, that sense of community. It doesn't have to be heavy handed, it's not all about achievements and gamerscore, it's about putting a little bit of creative power into peoples hands and seeing what they can do.

That to me is the business model for Unity that we've all been searching for.


Comments (7) -

  • Aras Pranckevicius

    4/29/2009 6:47:29 PM |

    "we'd lick it if we could"? Uh oh, Unity has transcended being a software level! Which is sort of cool :)

  • Iain

    4/29/2009 6:52:02 PM |

    A bit off topic, but are you guys using JavaScript or C#? Are they both equally well documented?

  • Squize

    4/29/2009 7:18:41 PM |

    Hey Aras, good to see you here mate ( As you can tell we're loving your work :) ).
    I'm glad now I wasn't more graphic about our appreciation of it.

    Hey Iain, I started off with Javascript as it's not a million miles away from actionscript and wanted to get up and running quickly... but in practise it kinda is.
    It's the little differences between it and actionscript that jar, and it's no where near as mature as AS3 ( As you'd expect ) so it feels a little more like coding in as1, which feels like a backward step ( Esp. when you've got the power of Unity at your finger tips ).

    Olli dived straight in with c# as he's used it before and has been telling me for years how good Visual Studio is, so when I saw on the roadmap for Unity better VS integration in the near future ( 2.6 ? ) I figured it would be better to start totally from scratch and learn c#.

    In terms of documentation, it does feel more javascript orientated but porting between the two isn't too tricky, it's like you can follow php when you've coded with as1.

    So after all that, we've gone c# as it feels more mature, VS really is sex and there isn't anything we're really missing out on in terms of documentation or examples.

  • Iain

    4/29/2009 10:47:23 PM |

    Thanks for explaining that mr squize. I was leaning more down the c# route but then I saw that the javascript looked quite AS-like and wavered a bit + the getting started stuff is mostly js. agree visual studio is awesome though so will stick with c# too. I think you said it before, but the hardest part is coming to terms with the fact that it's not Flash. it's a new paradigm out there! don't know how you have time to learn it - are you having to turn down contract work to take time to learn it?

  • Squize

    4/30/2009 11:53:12 AM |

    "are you having to turn down contract work to take time to learn it?"

    No, for the first 3 months of the year I really killed myself where every project came to fruition and then proceeded to blow up in my face. The plus side being that when the money finally came in it did in the space of a couple of weeks, so I had a month of being paper rich :)
    To be honest now I'm back in the game I've got less time for Unity love, but Olli is on fire with it, so I'm just going sponge knowledge off him when I get some free time again to hit things hard.

    It's less than ideal, but Flash still pays the rent whereas right now Unity just makes me giddy.

  • Jarod

    5/2/2009 11:56:57 AM |

    There is now actually a dedicated Unity3D game portal with revenue sharing:

  • Squize

    5/2/2009 1:36:40 PM |

    Thanks for the link mate.

    The one thing I really notice in terms of Flash / Unity games is the presentation. Obviously Flash is born for it and Unity is way behind in terms of gui features but still... a lot of front-ends seem thrown together at the last minute with coder art.

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