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Unity gaming engine "skipping" Windows Phone 7

Unity Technologies, maker of the ubiquitous gaming engine of the same name, will be "skipping" Windows Phone 7, according to their CEO, David Helgason.  He explained that the decision was made based on the fact that WP7 is closed environment:

"[WP7] is a relatively closed system so you can't run native content, which means we can't really support it.  We could, in theory, do what we've done with Flash, which is to rewrite the engine so it works inside a non-native environment. So it could be done, in theory, but it's very much in theory because that would require a huge amount of work and uncertain results."

The good news is that Unity is taking a close look at Windows Phone 8, hoping that it will be more open and better suited for their content.  In the meantime, Microsoft will be missing out, while its competitors, iOS and Android benefit from the hundreds of apps created with Unity's engine.

This is not the first time that WP7 has been bypassed by a major gaming engine.  Epic Games put forth an effort to port their Unreal Engine over to Windows Phone, but Microsoft refused to give them native access, despite a very amicable relationship between the two companies.  While it is understandable that MS wants to avoid opening up their OS completely, it could be a bit misguided to cut off these opportunities, especially considering that they are heavily pushing Windows Phone as a mobile gaming platform. 

Source: Develop; Via: Joystiq



There are 21 comments. Sign in to comment

kevm14 says:

So Unity was denied native access? Or did they not request it?

Seems they didn't bother to ask for it--partially because the effort wasn't worth it yet for them. It's also not clear they would get it if Epic was denied as the Unreal Engine is more ubiquitous.

erichon99 says:

I'm no techie guy, but could someone explain to me the reasons why MS would not choose to be on board, specifically the technical challenges?

Bei337 says:

Microsoft definitely has the technical competency to support Unity. That will require a lot of first party support, but it's definitely achievable. I think the real reason behind this is to have game engine monopoly with XNA on their own - Amazing WP7 wallpapers a scan away!

planetarian says:

but XNA is a platform, not an engine.

If the core OS that windows phone moves to being based on Windows 8, then any games or applications written in native code for WP7 will not work on the new WP8. So a game engine would not work, and therefore, all of the games created using that engine would not work.XNA exists on a layer on top of the OS. So a version of XNA would just need to be made for WP8 and all current XNA games would work.I would imagine that if MS is transitioning to Windows 8 kernel, then at that point they would start making native access more prominent. Buy until they have made the transition, I doubt any non-native engines would be allowed.

Bei337 says:

I'm feeling a bit unease about Microsoft's extremely selective partnerships. The initial impression the WP7 platform gave me was that it's middle of the road between Android and iOS, but with the denial of Unreal Engine and lack of Unity support, it almost seems like iOS is a more open platform.Maybe Microsoft needs a closed environment for the time being to shield the platform from excessive deviations stemming from multiple engines besides XNA, but I sure hope it will soon open up to proven successes such as the Unreal Engine and - Amazing WP7 wallpapers a scan away!

awesumjon says:

This does not please me.Do you think they aren't letting them because they are on the other platforms?Maybe MS wants some exclusivity with some games for WP7, maybe then they'll let them "go native"

Duvi says:

Sounds bogus to me... iOS is as closed if not even more of a close environment than Microsoft is with WP.

alifarhatt says:

like the unity guys said it can be done, but costs money. I say power to MS for sticking to its guns. Tough descision, but beneficial in the long run. Hold out guys, coz this is gonna turn into the whole xbox scenario pretty soon with MS coming back to conquer.

Bei337 says:

I don't see your point. How is this beneficial in the long run? Xbox 360 was very open to its developers, and it's way easier to make games on it than PS3, hence the success. This is not nearly the same, if not the exact - Amazing WP7 wallpapers a scan away!

xKophsx says:

"major gaming engine."im sorry but unity is NOT a major gaming engine.there is no AAA games made with it, there are no real unity xbox360 games i know. on PC it doesn't even try to support directx 11 which is starting to take its place in pc gaming.yeah its used more for mobile games, i have seen some, but they are far from "super amazing". so is this a loss? not at all.its not like without or with unity games will be better or worse on Wp7, that depends on developers. when it was about unreal engine, it wasn't good news but not bad news either as well. i havent even seen many iOS nor android games made with it. but it could make "easier" and help geting some big titles for Wp7.but its just my opinion of course.

In mobile and web development, Unity is a major game engine. Perhaps even the premier engine.

xKophsx says:

and what games developed with unity are soooo amazing that wp7 needs it? none... only because there are some games made with unity for mobile and web, it doesn't mean it should be called major... it only means that Unity is used, thats all.all of them are not that great nor unique, and they are far from big/amazing titles. unreal engine 3 has too many games, big titles, amazing AAA games. so having unreal engine on wp7 would make hopes for big titles on wp7. but oh wait, by your words i can go and ask guys at stonetrip that if they will port shiva3d (which i think is really good) to wp7, because i have seen alot of games made with it so it is a major engine! /s

MS may change the kernel that Windows Phone is built on soon. Maybe with WP8 or WP9.Giving native access to a game engine would only ensure that the games developed with it would no longer work when the new base OS is used.The reason MS is using XNA us because it is non-native. XNA can still be put on the new OS and the games would still work.

nkast says:

Big players willing to invest on the WP7 ecosystem had no problem in the past to work with microsoft and gain native access.ex: thing is that Unity is not a single application, its a Game Engine or if you like, an App Generator. Meaning that every app generated and submited by 3rd parties should get native access as well. This is not possible for the obvious reasons. Microsoft lately takes security very seriously.

planetarian says:

This is an important point. It's no longer an issue of granting a single app native access here; this is opening the floodgates for anyone and everyone.

MarkAllett says:

More ammunition for fanboys to beat us over the head with!

vamn says:

At least they're considering working on a version for WP8. I hope Microsoft can woo them back to WP7 since it's likely to be around for a while longer. I would hate for WP7 to lag behind more in the games market just as it was getting started. A major dev saying their OS is more closed than iOS (c'mon, Apple is the king of closed, restrictive systems!) is just a bad sign. :(

MastrMeatWad says:

I don't know what to think. I want to see more exclusives AND all the games I can get on my ipad or my wifes android on my wp7 phone. To turn down Epic/unreal is silly. MS should have worked out a huge deal with them, buy them, whatever the case. Seeing less exclusives is a bad thing. MS getting in with twisted pixel was a great move, but they need some major developers.