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Piracy helped Unity's expansion into China

Asia GM cites hidden benefits of piracy, top four cities for Unity sessions now in Asia

Unity Technologies' John Goodale believes China's pirate culture helped the company gain a foothold in the country's development culture.

Speaking to at Unite 11 in San Francisco, Goodale, Unity's general manager for Asia, compared the process to his own early experiences with computing.

"I was an original DOS, Lotus 123 user. Then I heard of this thing called Excel, but I couldn't imagine going away from lotus 123 - it's what I knew. Then somebody gave me an illegal copy of Excel, and I loved it, and I've purchased it ever since," he said.

"Piracy can be a way to seed a market. Nobody will ever fully conquer the piracy problem, but we can certainly turn it to our advantage, and I think that's what we've done in China."

According to data released by Unity during the introductory keynote address, the four cities with the most Unity sessions per month - legal or otherwise - are Seoul, Beijing, Shanghai and Nei Hu. The fifth is Melbourne, with Los Angeles the only American city to make the top 10.

Nobody will ever fully conquer the piracy problem, but we can certainly turn it to our advantage

John Goodale, Unity Technologies

"It's pretty phenomenal," adds Goodale. "I'm certainly not surprised because I've been doing business in Asia for 20 years, but I think the general public will be surprised because we're not known as an engine for Asia."

Unity secured $12 million in funding to aid its expansion into Asia in July, and it now has offices in Japan and Korea. Revenue generated in Asian territories between January and August this year is already 258 per cent higher than revenue generated during the whole of 2010.

However, while Unity's work in Asia is far from over, the company is already monitoring other emerging markets.

"Latin America is certainly one of those," Goodale says. "We have grown up with a culture of using local re-sellers, and while I can't say for certain because Asia is my territory, and I don't know that we would set up an office in Latin America per se, I do know that we're working on expanding our re-seller network there. I believe we'll certainly grow in that territory."

"Another area of the relatively near future is India. In India we face an even greater piracy challenge than in China, but as we work hard we'll eventually overcome these things."

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Matthew Handrahan avatar
Matthew Handrahan: Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.
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