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Matmi: Unity "looks like it could be banned" from iPhone

Casual dev concerned that Apple will outlaw third-party dev tool, but says Flash has lost its way

Jeff Coghlan, founder and creative director of browser and mobile studio Matmi, has expressed concern that Apple will ban the Unity toolset from its iPhone and iPad platforms.

Speaking at this year's Develop conference about the merits if Unity vs Flash, he argued that Apple was right to have banned Flash as to allow it meant "the market would be flooded with crap. The App store would be destroyed." He also said that Flash had lost its way, saying that Matmi games made in Unity would take four to five times as long to create in Flash.

However, he felt it would be a mistake were the same to happen to Unity as a result of Apple's increasing trend to block all third-party tools. He claimed to have heard high-level rumours that this might happen.

"It looks like it could be banned," he said, saying a "very big company" had hinted as much to him. When asked if this company was Apple, he neither confirmed nor denied it.

"To ban all third party tools would be crazy," he said, but argued that Unity would be able to return to the platform if banned. "If there is a problem Unity have a plan b. They'll change the native language to C++."

This would involve developers creating games in Unity, then exporting to objective C code and recompiling from that, thus making it impossible for Apple to prove a game had been made with a third-party tool.

A Unity employee in the audience emphasised that "Unity are completely committed to supporting those platforms," but "we do have a fallback position where we could make sure that the code we produce conforms to Apple's terms."

Added Coghlan, "I think everything will be okay, but if Apple do do something how it will come in? We just don't know. That's the problem with Apple, they can just change things. But if they do that too much developers will switch off." He argued that Android might prove an increasingly popular alternative.

Matmi's latest project is the Unity-powered Gorillaz: Escape From Plastic Beach, for iPhone and iPad.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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