Microsoft makes Unity engine free for ID@Xbox devs

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Nic Healey can usually be found on a couch muttering about aspect ratios and 7.1 channel sound - which is helpful given that he's the home entertainment guy at CNET.

Back in August, Microsoft detailed its program for independent game developers called ID@Xbox.

(Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The program was designed to give approved devs a simpler way to design titles for the Xbox One. Members of ID@Xbox are not charged any fees for applying or for submitting games for certification and receive two no-cost development kits to build games on.

Now, Microsoft has added another tool for developers: ID@Xbox devs will get a free copy of Unity, the cross-platform game engine, as well as the Xbox One add-on for the software.

Unity has proven popular for both large studios and independents alike, being used to make games such as Gone Home, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Wasteland 2 and many more.

Program head Chris Charla announced the Unity plan on the Xbox Wire blog:

For independent developers ... tools like Unity on console can cost quite a bit. We talked internally at ID@Xbox about ways we could help developers for Xbox One. Many developers we talk to are using Unity today to get up and running quickly and to be able to harness the power of hardware and realise their creative visions without spending tons of time on technology development.

We thought about paying for some developers' Unity licences, but the more we talked about it, the more we felt paying for some developers' licences and not others just didn't feel right.

Microsoft will also be making some marketing budget available to promising titles, but the free Unity licence is designed to level the playing field for developers.

"We want to make sure the dev who's working away in Omaha, or Coventry or Chiba will have the same shot to realise their vision on Xbox One as one of my developer friends we hang out with in Seattle or at a trade show, like GDC or Gamescom," Charla said. "Because, at the end of the day, we want gamers to pick the hits."



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