Unity is the cornerstone engine in the current development market, with 45% of the market share of Global Game Engines headed by Unity1. With 4.5 million registered developers Unity has the community and backing other game engines only dream of1; currently world wide, 47% of developers are using Unity in some form, which is huge, as the next closest competitor is 17%1. With the explosion of projects made with Unity, and the exponential growth of Virtual Reality, it’s comforting to know that Unity has their feet planted firm.
Unity is quickly providing more and more native support for virtual reality straight into their engine. Currently all the major Head Mounted Displays you can think of, either are already supported natively by the Unity engine, or currently have a Unity friendly SDK. Oculus Rift has been supported by Unity since June 2015, with the release of version 5.1, and many more have followed since, including: Playstation VR, Gear VR, Google Cardboard, and the Microsoft Hololens.
Unity always tries to ensure that developing for any platform is as straightforward as possible, and the Virtual Reality support is no exception to that. With the flip of a switch, developers are able to enable “Virtual Reality support” and this is all that’s needed to integrate the devices listed previously. Unity will automatically set the camera to a stereoscopic mode, and will track the Headset, to correctly rotate and position of the camera in the Engine.2
So only when things can’t seem to get better for developers who use Unity, and develop VR products, Unity and Valve (The creators of the HTC Vive Pre) have teamed up to support SteamVR within Unity natively. This was announced at the Vision VR/AR Summit in Hollywood this past February(2016) by Valve co-founder Gabe Newell. Valve would work hand-in-hand with Unity to develop this rendering plugin would increase performance, fidelity and realism of the Vive. This plugin would of course be offered at no extra cost. Valve seems to be very fond, and appreciative of Unity. This comes as both strange and comforting, as Valve does host its own engine known as The Source Engine. Gabe stated at the summit “We made many of our Vive demos using Unity, and continue to use it today in VR development. Through that process, and in working with VR developers, we found some opportunities to make Unity even more robust and powerful for us and really want to share those benefits with all VR content creators.”3
With all of this strong backing for VR it would come as no surprise that there is an increased percentage in developers working with VR, with last year(2015) approximately 9% of developers were working on a project with some relation to VR, now here at 2016, that number has risen to 16%4. With the number of developers and projects working with VR, it’s a safe bet that Virtual Reality is here to stay.
Unity is the leading engine for Virtual Reality, with its feet firmly planted in the market, and ensuring that projects can be created with as little pain as possible for developers, Unity creates the perfect environment for VR, and has clearly already laid the groundwork for VR to be the next best thing. Virtual and Augmented reality is here to stay, and Unity knows it; the sky’s the limit for Unity, and VR.
4 http://venturebeat.com/2016/01/20/gdcsurveyshowsnumberofvrdevelopershasmorethandoubledina year/