Unity, developers of the wildly popular gaming engine of the same name, announced yesterday at Build 2013 that they have struck up a "strategic partnership" with Microsoft to develop for Xbox One and Windows Phone 8. This collaboration with Microsoft means the development of new development tools geared specifically for both platforms, "including support for many next-generation features like enhanced Kinect gestures and recognition, multiplayer matchmaking, SmartGlass and cloud stuff."
In addition to opening up the development floodgates to both platforms, the new partnership will also benefit those who choose to develop games using the Unity engine.
Current Unity Pro 4 license holders will receive the Windows Store Pro publishing add-on, which will allow them to port games to both the Windows Store and Windows Phone Store, free of charge. Developers who build games published by Microsoft Studios get the tools for both Xbox 360 and Xbox One at no cost. The partnership will also offer up over $100,000 in prizes to those who build "great Windows experiences."
This partnership should prove to be a boon to Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, who have both seen their fair share of struggles in gaining popularity. It will add much-needed dev cred to Microsoft's mobile operating system, which is something they have desperately been trying to jumpstart. Unity's support for Windows Phone 8 is a welcome turnaround. They decided to pass on Windows Phone 7 back in 2011, but announced last summer that they would indeed support its successor.
Drift Mania Championship 2 on Windows Phone 8 was built with Unity.
But this is no one-sided partnership either. Unity gets to play in Microsoft's gaming waters. If you combine Xbox, Windows and Windows Phone, there is no competitor that comes even close to Microsoft's gaming reach. Throw in these perks for developers that were just announced at Build 2013, and it looks like everybody wins.