Sun, Oct 14, 2012 | 11:55 BST
Wii U: ‘Nintendo rolling out Unity to all 1st & 3rd party studios’
Wii U will support the Unity platform, and the company’s CEO David Helgason has explained to VG247 that the engine will be brought in-house at Nintendo for all of its first-party studios to use, as well as its third-party partners. Helgason has also explained that the deal will give the Unity community free reign to develop titles for Wii U.
Speaking with VG247, Helgason explained how the deal with Nintendo came about, stating that Unity approached them five years earlier – as well as Sony – but it was not a big enough industry player at the time.
Helgason said, “It’s actually been a dream of ours to be the default development kit for something you can access if you’re just building games for a particular console. I remember we pitched the idea to at last Nintendo, but also Sony maybe five years ago, but of course back then we were a tiny company, and we didn’t have a lot of users.”
“So, it was understandable that they didn’t bite back then,” Helgason continued, “although I think they should have, because the tools were really good back then, but they weren’t yet proven. We didn’t have 1.2 million registered users, or 200,000 monthly users back then – we probably had closer to 200.”
“Our prowess grew very quickly thanks to the explosion of mobile, and that helped us grow our user base and improve our tools. I can’t describe the exact steps we took with Nintendo, but we were in touch with them, and in the end they may have even come to us. I can’t remember the exact steps.”
Unity is undergoing a large push in Japan, bolstered by the hiring of ex-Sega of America CEO Shinobu Toyoda, who proved instrumental in securing a deal with Nintendo.
Helgason recalled, “We were over in Japan last year with our really good tech people who are famous in the Japanese industry, such as Shinobu Toyoda, who was the American CEO of Sega. He is very well connected. So we led the charge on this partnership – we were excited about it, as were Nintendo.”
“From then on we negotiated a bunch of stuff, like who would do what and when. I think it’s interesting because we’re still working on tools that mean you can take a version of Unity and export it to the Wii U. It’s not done yet, but we know it’s going to get done soon.”
Helgason also explained the manner in which Nintendo will use Unity, and revealed that the company plans on rolling the engine out to all of its first and third-party studios to create a standard of cost-effective, powerful development.
“It’s going well,” Helgason explained, “and we’re firing along with the project. Once that’s done, two things will happen, and these are separate things, but I think they are connected and they will work really well together.”
“One thing is that Nintendo will take Unity tools that we give them, and bring it to their big ecosystem of studios. Nintendo has first-party, third-party and all of the other studios that they’ve worked with for years, and they know them well.”
“They trust them because they know how to make awesome games for Nintendo platforms. Historically, none of these companies were using Unity, and they have the same challenges as everybody else – cost effective development and all that stuff.”
“So Nintendo is bringing Unity to these studios so they can build with it. The second thing that will happen is that, we turn around with the same tools and technology we’re working on, and take them to our community, which is a different one.”
“Nintendo’s community is very formidable and respected, they’ve been around for a long time. We turn to our community which is new, very energetic – of course we have old studios, but there are a lot of young ones too – and many of them have built games for consoles before.”
“But many more have never built console games, or published on any console. What is exciting there is that are many studios out there that make hit games on iOS, Android or Steam, but hopefully many of these studios will be able to bring their games to Wii U, and that’s just really exciting.”
The deal could cause the range of Wii U titles to explode, particularly because major mobile players such as Rovio will be given free reign to develop titles for Nintendo’s format. Helgason shares the sentiment.
“If the Wii U is – and we hope it will be – a big success, then that will be a big deal for a lot of those developers.”
What do you think? Is Unity on Wii U a dream ticket for the indie or small studio market? Will it help it be a force to be reckoned with? Let us know below.