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It's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Game Grape 2024/07/01 21:08


I don't know if you have noticed that every time miHoYo pulls out a new game, there is always a group of people who will be entangled: why are they still using Unity? This is the case with Genshin Impact, with Honkai: Star Railway, and even now with Jeopardy Zero.

They are not saying that Unity is bad, but in the eyes of many people, the current game is popular to blow the engine, blow the picture quality, and make the PV extremely cool, so that players can meet the expectations, on the other hand, miHoYo is unexpectedly conservative and still loves Unity, an "old antique".

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

I think the reason for this controversy is that some people have a lack of information about the engine technology and Unity.

For example, the value that Unity brings to miHoYo is far more than the so-called "picture performance".

In the early days, miHoYo may have relied on the former's high expansibility to create a unique card rendering effect. But then, the technology they built on Unity, the workflow they built, and the talent they cultivated...... may all be important factors influencing miHoYo's decision-making.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

He Jia, the former technical director of miHoYo, shared the card rendering technology of "Honkai Impact 3" at Unite 2018

There are also a large number of developers who choose Unity because of its ease of learning, low threshold and cost, good localization, and strong technical exchange atmosphere...... Put simply, Unity may provide more value than we think.

This can also be seen in the upcoming return of Unite 2024.

According to official information, the Unite conference will set up 7 special sessions and bring more than 100 speeches. In addition to the experience shared by Unity experts and technical personnel from major manufacturers, there is also a special session on the Unity Engine for China, covering the latest domestic technologies and outlets such as mini games, open source HarmonyOS ecosystem, AIGC, and cloud games, almost covering the "food, clothing, housing and transportation" of developers.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Looking at this situation, is it possible that we should look at Unity again?


We may have been mistaken about Unity for a long time

Not only does the outside world have poor information about engine technology, but the industry may also step on the pitfall.

In the past few years, many manufacturers have set off a round of project approval due to the iteration of a certain engine technology, and invested a lot of manpower and costs.

But as a result, some of the projects that were approved with the new engine were stillborn, some were complained about not matching the video after they were launched, and then they quickly collapsed, and some were held back for several years and were not served on the table for a long time...... These cases at least prove that if you want to play a game, you can't do it with a light engine.

You think, one of the biggest hits this year, "Animal Well", which has an estimated income of 30 million in half a month, has a hand-rubbed engine by the developer himself, and the package body is less than 33M.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Animal Wells

To put it simply, some manufacturers may be in a hurry, and you want to make new projects have better performance and experience, use new engines, self-developed engines, and explore technologies...... There's nothing wrong with that, but games are always results-driven, and the actual experience of the player is more important.

To take an extreme example, when some copycat MMO mobile games are advertised, they will put some copywriting of "the research and development of the 99 engine of the next era, the polishing of a team of 10,000 people for a hundred years, and the investment of tens of billions of global collaboration", and then some catwalk pictures with characters with big wings...... Most players prefer to have fun with it rather than experience it.

Talking about this, you may also understand that the biggest value of the engine is not how well the game performs, but how to make the idea land as soon as possible, and how to let developers and players experience the transparency of what they see.

In my opinion, Unity has been doing this for a long time. Back in 2004, when Unity was founded, the three founders had the original intention of "democratizing the game engine", and made "making games work on all platforms with one click" as their earliest technical goal.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

The three founders (David from the right)

From 2005 to 2007, they developed Unity 1.0 and 2.0 for MAC and Windows, and held the first Unite conference in 2007. According to David, the founder, there were only 10 people in the company at the time, and only 32 tickets were sold for the conference, but this still gave them a lot of confidence. "I remember people coming from Japan, China, India."

The strategy of quickly adapting to all platforms has also made it one of the first game engines to support iOS and Android platforms, seizing the dividends of the rapid blowout of the mobile game market. According to statistics from Unity's official website, as of 2023, they have covered more than 20 mainstream application platforms, supported more than half of the world's game development, and more than 70% of the TOP 1000 mobile game development.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

But Unity doesn't stop there. Previously, David said in an interview that they had three principles for Unity: democratization, solving technical challenges, and helping developers monetize.

What we're seeing so far is more of Unity's success in developing mass development, and as for the other two aspects, they have also been secretly developing for a long time.

The first is to help developers monetize.

When he first learned this, Grape Jun was also a little surprised: how can you, a big-eyed engine, still teach people to make money?

But Unity is a long-time player in the mobile advertising industry, and they have helped game and app developers grow user acquisition and monetize through products such as LevelPlay ad mediation platform, Unity Ads, ironSource Ads, and more.

According to third-party statistics, the number of monthly impressions of Unity is as high as 23 billion, and it is the second most supported advertising platform among the surveyed advertisers (Google is the first, Facebook is the third). According to official Unity data, 84% of the world's top 100 most downloaded games use its advertising business.

The second is to solve technical problems. This is not only to solve the pain points of the latest game scenarios such as the open source HarmonyOS system, car machine ecology, cloud games, and mini games, but also to the cutting-edge scientific and technological problems at the macro level, such as AR/VR technology, digital twins, industrial applications, AIGC, and other things with more industrial value.

After all, the game industry is not the product of internal digestion and self-germination, and many game technologies are helping the development of other industries, such as 3D modeling for the construction industry, rendering strategies for digital humans, and game design for education, cultural tourism, and ...... While many people are still discussing Unity's game technology, Unity has already connected multiple industries and infiltrated into users' Internet lives.

Source: Unity official website (partial)

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

For Apple's headset Vision Pro, Unity is its official partner


Back to business:

What exactly does Unity bring to the gaming industry?

Having said so much, some people may also ask-

I don't care if I have any of these, I just want to know if Unity is great at games, and what are the advantages of using it to develop games?

So let's get back to the question: how does Unity look?

In fact, many developers have given their opinions on this issue, "There is no obvious difference between the upper limit of image quality between Unity and other engines", and some developers said: "Really awesome manufacturers will use Unity's expansive material rendering and texture details to get good visual effects".

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

If you think that these are the results of a huge investment, but in fact, in the Unity community, or platforms such as Bilibili and Douyin, there are also some individual developers who have achieved the ultimate visual effects through Unity.

For example, the New Year's UP main Sakura Rabbit of Station B, and many cattle people who use Unity to reproduce the rendering effect of Mijia games...... As the developers who hold this point of view say: as long as you're good enough, you can make any kind of game with Unity.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Part of the Sakura Rabbit

The point of view of a self-proclaimed big factory TA

It can be seen that Unity still follows the principle of "popularization" in the development of game engines, and its value lies in the fact that it does not preset too many restrictions and does not try to teach you how to make games, but only gives developers the greatest possibilities through stronger extensibility and more development tools - perhaps because of this, we can also see more works with differentiated art styles from games supported by Unity.

Games that leverage the Unity engine (partial)

Here we have to mention another feature of Unity: a large number of tools to choose from, and a relatively comprehensive community ecosystem.

For example, the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), which can directly improve the image quality of the game by several levels; For example, the latest Unity 6 optimizes the rendering strategy, which can reduce the CPU burden by 30%-50% while obtaining larger, better, and faster rendering results; Another example is that manufacturers can use the solidarity engine exclusive to the Chinese market to easily "mini-gamify" mobile games.

Unity 6 part of the feature demo

As for the community ecology, we may know that there are many game technology forums and technology sharing conferences such as GDC overseas, while there is still a long way to go in China in terms of game technology exchange ecology.

Today, relying on the engine ecosystem, Unity has built a large number of technical exchange communities in China, including the Unity China developer community with hundreds of thousands of monthly active users, Chinese classrooms, as well as offline Unite conferences, technical open days, game jam competitions, and dark horse programs to support small and medium-sized game teams...... The combination of online and offline communication ecology may be an important reason why Unity is favored by many developers.

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Unite Conference and Technology Open House

In the long run, Unity's approach is not only in line with their original intention of "popularization", but also helps the domestic game industry to build an atmosphere for technical exchanges, gain more talent reserves, and form a win-win situation.

Win-win is also the biggest value that I think Unity can bring.

For 20 years, Unity has developed a unique partnership with developers: the former explores new technologies, and the latter brings them to life through use and feedback. Unity can be at the forefront of VR/AR, car machines, WeChat mini games, cloud gaming, open source HarmonyOS, AIGC and other fields, and perhaps there are also the results of developers constantly "urging".

Based on this partnership, as long as the times evolve and developers have demands, the value that Unity can provide will continue to be maintained.


The future of the industry should also be more "united"

In recent years, many people have said that the game industry is difficult, the competition is fierce, and they can't beat the big factories. But in fact, after reading Unity's experience and ecological layout, you will find that the game industry is not only competition and elimination, but also has its own "human touch".

For example, Unity has a free version, as well as a rich technical tutorial and communication community, which makes it easier for small and medium-sized teams to implement their ideas.

Grape Jun has observed a trend: there are more and more people who share their game development experience in public channels and can make good independent works, which is not only the increase in the number of people who love to make games, but also the current environment is more tolerant of developers.

What's more humane about Unity is its "big factory mentality". For example, they have now canceled the free version of Made with Unity splash animation, giving developers more independence; Unity also supports the migration of projects to other development platforms, and joint customization of R&D tools and requirements (such as miHoYo's card rendering solution).

Game grapes, it's 2024, why are miHoYo's new games still using Unity?

Unity has partnered with Tencent Cloud to launch a game development platform

In fact, other major manufacturers will also give more support to the game industry when they become famous. For example, platforms such as TapTap and Steam give developers more opportunities to show. Tencent, NetEase and other large manufacturers have also laid a lot of infrastructure in the fields of investment, security, and standardization.

This is not to say good things for the big factories, after all, they will also get all kinds of rewards for doing these things.

But what I want to say is that most of the competition and cooperation in the game industry are phased, just as you may not think that Tencent can reconcile with Douyin and miHoYo is using Tencent's anti-plug-in technology, everyone should also pay more attention to the corresponding opportunities and cooperation in the face of difficulties and competition.

For example, the aforementioned Unite 2024 conference will be officially held in Shanghai on July 23, and will bring more than 100 speeches in 7 special sessions such as Unity technology, game ecology, unity engine, and Unity growth, as well as development workshops for open source HarmonyOS, WeChat mini games, and Apple Vision Pro...... I think this will be a good opportunity for many developers to get in touch with the forefront of the industry.

If you are interested, you can check the schedule below, scan the QR code or click "Read the original article" to participate in the event.

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