Unity Technologies & Game Engine Economics

Former Head of Strategy APAC at Unity Technologies

Why is this interview interesting?

  • Positioning of Unity vs Epic's Unreal engine
  • Unity's shift from perpetual licenses to SaaS business model
  • Unit economics of a large studio using Unreal vs Unity engine
  • How Unity can increase LTV for studio customers
  • Why Unity is best placed to win market share in engine applications outside of gaming
  • Risks to Unity from Unreal given Epic's publishing success
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Executive Bio

Joonsoo Ryu

Former Head of Strategy APAC at Unity Technologies

Joonsoo is the Former Head of Strategy for the APAC region at Unity Technologies where he spent 5 years transforming the gaming engine business from a perpetual license to SaaS model. He was responsible for optimising the LTV of gaming studios using Unity’s engine and he explored new applications for the engine in markets such as Architecture, Engineering, and Construction. Joonsoo left Unity in 2019 and is now the COO of bitsensing, a radar technology company. Read more

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Interview Transcript

Can you start by just laying out exactly your role at Unity?

I was heading APAC strategy where Unity was running strategies as a task force group, so I engaged in a couple of significant transformations, in terms of business model change and going out of gaming. From that perspective, I have much to share.

So you were working mainly with the developers, but also branching out into new sectors and industries?

Exactly. My later experiences with Unity was working with developing businesses with automative film and animation and architecture and engineering companies, as well, for VR and AR companies.

I want to start by diving into the engine market. How would you compare Unity versus Unreal?

If you’re interested in game development, you definitely know but, very simply put, Epic Games, they develop games by themselves. They are the user of their own engine. Unity, on the other hand, had opportunities to develop their own games, but they decided not to, for over a decade. What I’m trying to say is, Epic has their own view of developing a game engine, probably for the sake of their own development. Whereas Unity is developing businesses and technologies, mainly for the longer tail of game development and their studios.

Why did Unity decide not to move into publishing?

I think it was just a strategic decision as to where we should focus. If you really focus on developing your own game, there will be a certain type of segment or genre of games that you want to develop. But I think you need to want to be more universal. Unity’s mission was, basically, democratize game development. That means anybody who is interested in developing their own games, to represent themselves, their taste, they can develop their own. From that perspective, the hurdle to adopt Unity, learn Unity, should be lowered. Unity is approaching it as game engine development platform, rather than wanting to build their own games.

How would you split the market share of Unity versus Unreal and the different platforms?

There’s no hard number that I can share but, from my perspective, I would say in mobile games globally, I assume that Unity’s share would be around 50% and, probably, Epic Games would be less than 20%. But it really depends. If you look the game share for the top 20, globally, the Epic ratio would increase quite significantly. Whereas if you look at the top 1,000 games, I think Epic’s share would go down to less than 5%. Unreal has been used mainly by the bigger studios.

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Unity Technologies & Game Engine Economics(July 8, 2020)

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