According to gaming industry observers, Unity Technologies – the developer of Unity game engine – has been working in cohesion with Nintendo to improve the technology on the Nintendo Switch console since its launch in 2017. This collaboration was reached following problems faced by indie developers in getting their titles working on Nintendo’s latest platform, the Nintendo Switch.
In an interview with GamesIndustry, Unity’s Japan Regional Director Hiroki Omae claimed that over 30% of Nintendo Switch games are developed with Unity game engine. He said that Unity had been providing support for Nintendo Switch from day one and continues to partner with Nintendo to optimize Unity on Switch.
Two years down the lane, the general consensus among the Nintendo Switch game developer community is that the Switch is “the least demanding Nintendo console” to develop for yet and, more so, when developing games using the Unity game engine, as the developers are provided with support from both Nintendo and Unity.
Apart from the technical support, there are a number of other factors that make Unity an ideal game engine for those who develop Nintendo Switch games, which this blog attempts to set forth.
Unity is preferred by Nintendo
If you’re a Nintendo Switch console game developer looking to build 2D or 3D games, you’ll need to know Unity as it is critical for developing Nintendo Switch titles. In fact, the Unity game engine is the only third-party tool that finds mention on Nintendo’s official developer website. This makes it quite obvious what route Nintendo wants a developer to take for developing games for the Switch console.
Since most experienced console game developers are already well versed with Unity, the barrier for entry into Nintendo Switch console game development arena becomes fairly low for them. However, for developers who lack the experience of working in the Unity game engine, the road is a bit trickier. Nevertheless, the Unity website has some good tools which you can use to familiarize yourself with the game engine.
Unity is highly advanced and makes game development easier
The release of Unity game engine in June 2005 at Apple Inc.’s Worldwide Developers Conference was path-breaking for 2D and 3D video game development, which up till then had been quite a task involving time, effort, and cost. Over the years Unity has evolved into a highly advanced game engine, making the life of a Nintendo Switch game developer a whole lot easier.
Apart from adding new lightning and particle effects; and native support for Nintendo Switch console, Unity 5.6, which was released in 2017, also updated the engine’s overall performance. The release also provided a 4K video player capable of running 360-degree Virtual Reality (VR) videos.
The latest stable version of Unity, 2019.2.3, released in August 2019, is a powerful cross-platform engine which provides a user-friendly development environment enabling game development for 27 platforms and varied devices. The Unity game engine provides a wealth of resources such as intuitive tools, ready-made assets, tutorials, and detailed documentation for creating amazing 3D gaming content.
A few other advanced features of Unity 2019 that drastically reduce the time and cost of game development include rendering, asset tracking, real-time global illumination, a new audio system, Unity Cloud, the NVIDIA PhysX physics engine, light mapping previews, etc.
Unity is an affordable game engine
Unity is truly an affordable game engine suitable even for small teams and indie developers. However, despite its reasonable price, Unity 3D brings a massive quality lift to games. The Cinematic Image Effects introduced in the fifth generation Unity game engine makes games look less generic, giving them the feel of AAA games.
Apart from a free Personal Edition for novice developers that comes with basic features and a revenue or funding cap of $100K per year, Unity 3D is available in the Plus Edition for hobbyists at $25 per month, and in the Pro Edition for teams and freelancers at an affordable $125 monthly plan. The Pro Edition is meant for use by professional developers for creating real-time 2D, 3D, AR and VR experiences.
Unity is backed by a strong online community
Unity game engine is backed by a strong and proactive online community numbering over 2 million and growing. The forums that are the central hub of the community are great places to discuss solutions with experienced Unity developers and coders. Beginners and experts alike post their queries to help each other out with Unity on the Unity online community website.
Nailing it down
In the Nintendo Switch game development ecosystem, most game development companies rate the Unity game engine very highly. According to a survey, the Unity 3D engine has 45% of global game engine market share and is preferred as the primary development tool by 47% of game developers.
The Nintendo Switch console, which is now over 2 years old, has helped Nintendo recover lost ground in the video game console market significantly. In 2018, Nintendo led all video game publishers in software sales, for the first time since 2009.
These trends clearly highlight the rising popularity of the Nintendo Switch console, which will further spike the demand for experienced Unity developers in the coming time. What this means is that a video game developer seeking career prospects in Nintendo Switch game development should ignore adding Unity game development to his skillset at his own peril.
About Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch is a hybrid video game console which can be used both as a stationary and portable device. The console was released on March 3, 2017. Nintendo Switch comes bundled with two wireless Joy-Con controllers for facilitating user input, tactile feedback, and motion sensing. The controllers can attach to both sides of the console to support handheld play.
The software of Nintendo Switch supports online gaming through the internet. The gaming software for Nintendo Switch is available either on physical flash-based ROM cartridges or as digital distribution through Nintendo eShop.
The Nintendo Switch received resounding success with the console shipping nearly 3 million units in the first month of its launch. By early 2018, the Switch had already become the fastest-selling home game console in Japan and the United States, two of its biggest markets. The worldwide sales of the Nintendo Switch crossed 32 million consoles by the end of 2018. An eighth-generation game console, Nintendo Switch directly competes with Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation 4.