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Unity targets new platforms with Union division

UPDATE: Initial partners to include Nokia and HP Palm, as new Asset Store and Unity 3.1 are also unveiled

Unity Technologies is to found a new division, named Union, which will help small developers to reach new platforms and revenue streams with their Unity-based titles - and offer them an 80 per cent stake in the profits.

Headed up by general manager Brett Seyler, the new division will aim at distributing Unity titles to platforms such as set-top boxes, internet-connected TVs and mobiles, allowing smaller teams to reach into markets previously dominated by larger companies.

"We have encountered a huge thirst for great games from a huge range of platforms, and a broad range of these opportunities are currently only being captured by large game publishers. With Union, we help smaller developers band together to approach these opportunities as one," said Unity CEO David Helgason.

"We see Union as a further step on the road to the democratisation of game development - a road that started with technology but can go much further."

The news was part of a keynote at Unite 2010, an event hosted by Unity Technologies as a forum and development conference for Unity users. The new unit will provide porting and testing services for developers, helping them to fine tune products for new platforms.

"Union offers game developers a one-stop route to a wide range of revenue streams, allowing them to focus more energy on making great games instead of worrying about how to make money," said Seyler.

"Platform owners are thrilled to sign up great games from a variety of developers through a single point of contact – there's enormous mutual benefit to be unlocked here."

The move echoes other companies' recent interest in the internet TV market for games, with both Gaikai's Dave Perry and EA's John Riccitiello both pushing the idea that the full potential of the market is very much untapped at present.

"If I had to pick between IPTV and 3D and which one would be more important for gaming - not necessarily for installed base for homes, because I'm sure that people are definitely going to want to watch Shrek in 3D at home - but for us, I actually think it's probably more potential in terms of new revenue and business model for us," said Riccitiello in a recent call to investors.

UPDATE: During the keynote at this year's Unite Conference, taking place in Montreal, Canada, four initial partners were announced.

  • Nokia - which has a mobile handset market share of 32 per cent
  • HP Palm - with a mobile share of 5 per cent but a PC share of 30 per cent
  • Splashtop - which has an installed base of instant-on operating systems on 40 million PCs
  • NDS - a provider of set-top box software, with an installed base of 138 million active devices

Additionally the company revealed that developers will receive 80 per cent of all revenues generated via the Union partners, a move which was met with warm applause from the audience.

Meanwhile, Unity also unveiled its new Asset Store, which will allow users to upload files for others to buy, with a range of files available including art assets and lighting tools. Prices can be set by the content owners, and look like ranging between $20-$150 based on content available at launch.

And finally the company revealed that Unity 3.1 was available for download on the official site now.

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Dan Pearson

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