Highlights of the Blog
Updates in platform integration, including the growth of Unity's VisionOS beta program and support for newer devices.
Newly implemented Split Graphics Jobs threading mode and enhancing CPU performance for render thread-bound applications.
Cross-play multiplayer capabilities introduced in Unity 2022 LTS.
Performance-focused integration of Render Graph into URP and its optimization of GPU memory and bandwidth utilization.
Quality-of-life improvements in workflow, reducing iteration time, providing clarity in documentation, and enhancing performance.
Unity announces changes to Unity's runtime fee policy.
If your interest lies in game development, then you must be aware of Unity, the world’s leading platform for generating real-time, immersive 3D and 2D content. Unity is a highly useful professional tool used globally by game-developers to create and power their inventions.
Owing to its efficiency and free availability, it is regarded as a massive success among game developers. In this blog, we will talk about some key Unity update areas and reveal the major Unity updates that are expected to be witnessed in the year 2024. But before that, let’s get a sneak-peek into the basics and functioning of the Unity software.
How Unity Works
In addition to being just a game engine, Unity is also an IDE or “Integrated Development Environment” which basically means that it is an interface or a one-stop destination that provides the user the access to all the tools needed for game development conveniently in a single platform. The Unity software includes a visual editor that enables developers to easily drag and drop elements into scenes and manipulate their properties.
In addition, Unity software offers a variety of other features and tools, including the ability to move between folders in a project, and the ability to generate animations through a timeline tool. And much more, the list doesn’t end.
If you are on the android website, then there is a strong chance that you want to develop applications for smartphones. That's where Unity can really be used as a development tool. While the software was previously known as “Unity 3D,” it has grown to be equally capable as a 2D development tool. This is not only because of the way graphics work, but also because it's very easy to convert experience into lower hardware. For this reason, Unity powers a large number of content on the Google Play Store.
Unity 2024 Upgrades
Here’s one major Unity update 2024: In April 2024, the release of Unity 2023.3 Tech Stream is scheduled, with the Unity 2023 LTS or Long Term Support set to follow later in the same year. The commitment is to offer users a robust and efficient Editor, utilizing the time gap between 2023.3 and LTS to enhance the overall user experience.
The introduction of the Tech Stream facilitates crucial advancements in Universal Render Pipeline (URP), artist workflows, platform integrations, Data-Oriented Technology Stack (DOTS), and cross-play multiplayer, allowing engineering teams to expedite features initially not planned for the 2023 LTS.
Expanded Platform Integration: The 2023.3 tech release brings several updates, including expanded platform integration. Unity's visionOS beta program, initiated in July, sees ongoing growth with a profound integration of Unity's PolySpatial technology and visionOS, allowing apps to coexist in the Shared Space on Apple Vision Pro. The momentum in platform support continues, with improvements in rendering on newer devices. Building on Unity 2022's Foveated Rendering API, support extends to PlayStation VR2, Meta Quest 2, and other devices, integrating with Oculus XR and OpenXR plugins for more immersive XR experiences.
Split Graphics Jobs Threading Mode: The newly introduced Split Graphics Jobs threading mode, initially available for DX12 platforms and PlayStation 4, enhances CPU performance for render thread-bound applications. Unity 2023.3 extends Split Graphics Jobs support to PlayStation 5, with plans for additional platform coverage in the future.
Cross-play multiplayer capabilities: Introduced in Unity 2022 LTS, these capabilities laid the foundation for co-op and competitive multiplayer titles. The 2023.3 release aims to simplify the creation workflow further, with improvements to the Editor, dedicated server targets management, code stripping and deployment, Play mode testing tools, and educational content for a quicker start.
Integration of Render Graph into URP: Focused on performance, the integration of Render Graph into URP enhances access to frame resources, allowing easier customization without modifying the URP source code. Render Graph optimizes GPU memory and bandwidth utilization, ensuring optimal performance and minimal energy consumption on various GPU devices.
Redefined API Access: API access and customizability in URP are refined to address complexities in creating custom post-processing, improving access to resources like history buffers. For High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), the focus remains on performance enhancements and the integration of NVIDIA DLSS3 support.
Improvements in artist workflows: These include enhancements to Mipmap streaming debug views for SRPs, keyboard shortcuts functionality, scope, and visibility setting enhancements in Shader Graph, and improved URP support for VFX Graph. Better onboarding materials and samples for Shader Graph and VFX Graph, along with stability and usability improvements in light baking, contribute to an enhanced artist experience.
Workflow Enhancements: Unity 2022 LTS introduced a powerful set of packages based on Data-Oriented Technology Stack or DOTS for Unity, supporting ambitious projects. Feedback from users has led to quality-of-life improvements in the workflow, reducing iteration time, providing clarity in documentation and error messages, enhancing performance in several APIs, and introducing a new one for faster Entity creation. These improvements apply to both Unity 2022 LTS and Unity 2023.3.
The Fee Policy Update
Along with these, another major Unity update 2024 pertains to the software’s runtime fee policy. In an open letter on September 22, Marc Whitten, the SVP at Unity Create, announced changes to Unity's runtime fee policy.
The key commitment is to allow users to stick to the terms of their current Unity version. To honor this commitment, Editor Terms have been updated based on feedback, ensuring users can stay on agreed terms for their specific Unity version.
The changes are now reflected on GitHub and unity.com/legal. Importantly, the runtime fee is only enforced for games created or upgraded to the next major release of Unity (from 2024 onward). The goal is to make it straightforward for developers to choose a Unity version that suits their needs for successful development.
In summary, Unity's latest updates, including the upcoming 2023.3 Tech Stream and the subsequent 2023 LTS release, promise noteworthy enhancements in platform integration, cross-play multiplayer, graphic performance, artist workflows, and the consolidation of the DOTS Entity Component System foundations. These improvements are coupled with a commitment to a transparent runtime fee policy, allowing users to maintain their terms for their chosen Unity version. The overall aim is to empower developers with user-friendly choices and tools, ensuring a seamless and successful development experience in the Unity environment.