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How to fix Unity's image problem.

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by WarpZone, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. WarpZone

    WarpZone

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    We all know what the problem is. Unity Free is used by people who aren't very good at making games yet. Unity Free requires you to advertise the engine. This means Unity has acquired an undeserved reputation for being a bad engine that makes bad games, because every time you boot up a bad game on Steam, you see the Unity logo. The purpose of this thread is to propose solutions.

    The simplest fix would be to reverse the way the logo requirements work:

    Free - No logo. Instead, a small, unobtrusive line of text pops up saying something like "Unity Team makes no assertion as to the suitability of this product or service for any particular purpose." It would be designed to look like a disclaimer, not a logo. This shouldn't be a deal-breaker for Free users, since a good enough game would overcome any stigma implied by the splash screen, just like it already does now. The only difference would be, in that split second before the occasional indie gem proves them wrong, players would be rolling the eyes at the game itself, rather than rolling their eyes at the engine.

    Plus - for $35/month, the splash screen is taken away, just like it is now.

    Pro - No disclaimer or logo is required. However, Pro users now have the option of applying for some sort of "Unity Quality" rewards program. An actual human being at Unity Team vets these games for quality. If the game passes muster, they're invited to display some sort of new "Unity Quality" logo designed by the marketing department. Remember "The Official Nintendo Seal of Quality?" It's like that. Pro users can submit their games for consideration or be invited by Unity Team, but it's important that Unity Team be at least somewhat picky about which games make the cut. I suppose Legal would have to go after anyone displaying a fake seal in their game's startup sequence. Not sure what enforcement would look like, but it's probably solvable. Just treat it like you would any other trademark violation.​

    Yes, this creates extra work for Unity Team, but they're already making money hand-over-fist off of Pro licensees. If it's really that hard to maintain, they can just raise the price of Pro or something. (Alternatively, if it turns out to scale better than I thought, maybe they could let Plus users apply for it, too.) They absolutely must not let developers buy their game's way into Quality status. Games that are genuinely fun to play should be favored. High-profile games that are also genuinely fun, such as Hearthstone, should be a no-brainer. "Unity Quality" status will only have meaning if the people curating the list work hard to give it meaning. Those games Unity already showcases in the background on the front page might be a good place to start. Deliberately unfun games that make a ton of money by torturing their users 'till they pay up should be excluded with extreme prejudice. You want Unity Engine to be associated with FUN games in the minds of the audience. Not merely financially successful games. Not games you're obligated to log into every day like you're punching the clock at work. Not games that are in the news for being at risk of getting legislated as gambling. Actual fun games that are fun to play in their own right because the gameplay is actually fun. Intrinsic, not extrinsic, reward structures. (It's sad that I need to explain this, but that's the state the industry is in right now.)

    The goal should always be to make sure that only the best games, the cream of the cream, are proudly displaying the Unity Quality seal at startup. Not as an obligation, but as a hard-won privilege. And Baby's First Asset Flip would open with a disclaimer subtly all but washing Unity's hands of the game.

    But I'm sure lots of users on this forum have differing opinions, so I'd love to hear counter-proposals. I've modified this first post a few times in response to peoples' reactions to it, and I plan to continue to do so as people raise new points.

    Unity has an image problem. But I'm convinced it's a problem that can be solved. All it takes is a subtle shift in the splash screen. From a message bragging about the mere existence of the engine, to a message implying that the engine is capable of so much more.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
  2. Ryiah

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  3. Murgilod

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    This is a whopper of a bad idea and I grew up during the dot com bubble.
     
  4. WarpZone

    WarpZone

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    Can you explain what's wrong with it? Maybe suggest something better?
     
  5. Murgilod

    Murgilod

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    Here's the thing. The thing that nobody who starts these threads seems to get:

    Unity doesn't have an image problem for the vast majority of people. The people who complain about Unity are a tiny subset of gamers who absolutely love things like Jim Sterling's videos. There's no fixing Unity in these people's eyes, so there's no point in doing something that immediately makes games that use Unity Free look bad in the eyes of people outside of this. Putting a disclaimer like that that basically says "Yo, this game might be a right pile of S***e" is going to make things WORSE, not BETTER.

    Unity doesn't need to do anything.
     
  6. WarpZone

    WarpZone

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    Unity already has such a disclaimer, in the form of the Unity Free logo.

    Look, I get it. You bought into Unity. Your games rely on it. You want to protect that investment. But burying your head in the sand won't accomplish that. Google the phrase "Worst Games on Steam." Look at the comments about those games on the Steam platform. Look at what regular gamers, in their own communities, are saying about Unity.

    Those people are your potential customers.

    Also, you've got it backwards. Jim Sterling doesn't convince his fans what's good and what's bad. That's not how so-called "tastemakers" work. (I realize the word's misleading.) It's actually the other way around. When Jim's fans email him a lot about a problem, that's how he knows it's important enough that he ought to get around to doing an episode about it.

    The bad publicity is real. It's coming from gamers. It's not the engine's fault, and it's not the media's fault. It's entirely the fault of bad games. If you can think of a better way to shift the stigma away from the engine and onto bad games (not all Unity games, just the bad ones,) please consider replying to this thread with a proposal of your own.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2018
  7. ShilohGames

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    The main thing to remember is that Unity's current way of doing things has led to Unity being the most used engine ever. If you are playing a game, it is most likely a game that was made using Unity. Unity is that popular and that widely used at this point.

    Unity does not have an image problem with game developers. Game developers are well aware of the features and limitations of Unity. Most game developers happily use Unity.

    Unity does not have an image problem with gamers. Most gamers don't care how a game is made. Most gamers only care if a game is enjoyable. If you ask every gamer for a list of their favorite games, nearly every gamer will list at least a few Unity based games.
     
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  8. Kiwasi

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    Unitys goals are not your goals. Unity's image is exactly where it wants it to be.

    With developers, unity is seen as a decent all purpose engine. With potential game developers, unity is seen as an easy to get into engine that everyone can use. Unity wins in both cases.

    Being considered easy to use is not a problem.
     
  9. WarpZone

    WarpZone

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    I'm confused. Are you saying Unity Team wants the general public to think Unity is a bad engine that makes bad games? Because that's currently the status quo.

    What's your source on this? Last I heard, the CEO of Unity agreed Unity had an image problem and just didn't have any ideas on how to fix it.
     
  10. Kiwasi

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    Unity wants the general public to think that Unity is an accessible engine. Its an engine that anyone can make a game in. Having Unity's name on major games really doesn't help this. Nobody is going to go play the latest version of Destiny, and thing 'I'm going to go make that'. But having Unity's name on crappy games does. Plenty of people play crappy games and thing 'I could do better then that', and go download Unity.

    Unity's current reputation means they snap up 80-90% of new game developers. That's valuable to Unity.

    Competent developers with plenty of money ignore public opinion, and choose an engine based on the team needs and the capacity of the engine. So Unity isn't loosing out anything with competent developers.

    The side effect of this is that there are a few gamers that don't like Unity. But so far I've yet to see this have any noticeable effect on anyone's sales.
     
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  11. Billy4184

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    The problem with this idea is that Unity would be actively making a move to cast doubt on the quality of its customers games. If you think that this would be a wise business move in any universe, you've obviously never tried it. It would be the equivalent of some low-end clothing brand printing all over its T-shirts "[Company] makes no assertion as to the social status or bank account balance of the wearer of this clothing item" or something like that. No one would touch such a brand with a ten-foot pole.

    The Unity logo is not in itself an indictment of the quality or lack thereof of a game, either. It may or may not have become that way to some people, but it's an advertisement that's designed to showcase the Unity engine, besides what Kiwasi said about promoting competition.

    In fact, any public judgement on the quality of its customers is a potentially fatal move for any company. It's not wise for Amazon to attempt to publicly label its own merchandise as better or worse, especially with some irremoveable stamp. Neither is it wise for Steam to do the same, or Unity for that matter. It's never good for business - mass market shops should always make judgement democratic (ratings), and bad products should not even be allowed into a boutique shop to begin with. But that's not possible with a game engine unless you only want to sell to an extremely select, handpicked and lucrative group, like with the Frostbite engine.

    So I can see why Unity, if they agree there's an image problem, have no idea how to fix it. It's not possible to do so as far as I can see. You're either democratic, and you get the chaff with the wheat, or you lose a hell of a lot of customers one way or the other.

    As I've said before, I think that any judgement or quality filtering of games must happen at the point of sale. Unity as a tools maker cannot efficiently deal with bad products from the use of their tools. I think that the market should simply destroy the possibility of bad games making any money and make them not worth the trouble. How that happens is a good question, but I think that point of sale is the only right place to do it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2018
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  12. sngdan

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    @Billy4184 i agree - in particular with last paragraph

    I guess unity already explored ideas for the free version, like
    - making a better splash screen showing off some capabilities (ie. 1 sec logo, non abortive, then demo that can be clicked away)
    - promoting top notch games or showcases directly on the splash screen (I.e. instead of ‘made with unity’ ‘see the capabilities’)
     
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  13. Player7

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    "Unity Team makes no assertion as to the suitability of this product or service for any particular purpose"

    For the free tier.. your solution is still making mention of 'Unity' at the startup.. So how in anyway is that a solution to your perceived problem.

    "This game has been made using an secret game engine the likes of which you could never guess in a million years, please don't close this window for another 5seconds while we upload gathered statistical information for our ad partners"

    I actually think how the splash screen works now for Free, Plus, Pro is much better than it was before... you aren't going to change public game perception of Unity engine made games by removing the logo or hiding the engine used..as already mentioned it really works against Unity picking up new users who might do better... and anyone who bought or played a bad game is going to know a similar bad game with some basic observations of those respective engine traits like the file/folder system those games have.

    "The goal should always be to make sure that only the best games, the cream of the cream, are proudly displaying the Unity Quality seal at startup. Not as an obligation, but as a hard-won privilege. And Baby's First Asset Flip would open with a disclaimer subtly all but washing Unity's hands of the game."

    And yet the best games the cream of top as you say.. don't usually want to be showing the Logo of the engine they used really.

    "Unity has an image problem. But I'm convinced it's a problem that can be solved. All it takes is a subtle shift in the splash screen. From a message bragging about the mere existence of the engine, to a message implying that the engine is capable of so much more. "

    It has a many diverse problems..including bugs ....I wouldn't worry about solving your issue with how gamers are perceiving Unity.. because any of your solutions is not going to change the actual problem of bad games getting on marketplaces like steam and pissing off customers.. .Valve still can't be arsed to make its billion grossing S*** client/store, actually show workshop mod downloads.. and provide better features and management for things.. side rant. And they certainly don't care to curate the naff stuff that goes on it because they make money either way both from the developers and the people using the store... so what if its filled with a larger % of Unity made games....it's hardly a bad thing for Unity or Valve.. until customers get smarter with what and where they choose to throw their wallets at.
     
  14. Mauri

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    That can't be! Otherwise, over 400k "Life is Strange: Before The Storm" players would lie :p
    (Yep, LiS: BTS was made in Unity - while the main LiS was made with the Unreal Engine)
     
  15. nhold

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    Those users are such a small subset of potential customers that they likely don't really matter too much. If you are so niche that you require those users you'll probably have to target them with unreal\lumberyard or something.
     
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  16. pk_Holzbaum

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    Can I get a source on that? I never heard such a thing.
     
  17. neginfinity

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    I absolutely wouldn't want something like this. It brings negative expectations, kinda like "we are gonna make your computer explode and it is your fault". Logo is better.

    Also a no. To have "Quality seal", you'd need to be a publisher or a store. Unity is neither.

    I believe perceived image problem is not worth worrying about and the situation is fine as is.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
  18. neginfinity

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    The problem with a disclaimer is that it indicates that the product is garbage and developer are not going to do a single thing to improve it. "Abandon ye hope all who enter here".

    Negative expectation, very strong one.


    The existence of those people and their opinions is irrelevant. They are not your customers and are not even potential ones. They're fanboys and nutcases. Nothing you do will change their opinion, and it is a waste of time with no benefit to even try.

    There are people play games regardless of the engines. Those are the ones you need to care about, and not guys that want to prove that they're specail/important/cool by saying how much they hate unity.

    You also need to understand that sites like steam community are kid's playgrounds, and good portion of those kids are trying to be cool by saying "strong" statements. This is "youtful maximalism", you can't get rid of it, and this is largely not relevant.

    Concentrate on your games and your customers and ignore nutcases, children trying to be cool and all that folk that tries to "defend the honor of their clan" or "fight for the future of mankind by saying that unity is bad engine". Perceived image problem and uneducated opinions are not important.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  19. Player7

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  20. Arowx

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    What about Unity Game Quality awards only available for the best Unity games, it doesn't break the existing system just add some options for showing off your game with a flashy intro.

    E.g. Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum awards.

    They could even have it as an optional paid to enter system so only developers making money from their games can afford to enter the Quality awards scheme?
     
  21. zombiegorilla

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    Definitely not. Unity provides tools for game development, they are not there to judge a game's quality. It would only piss off people (why is my game bronze not platinum?), and not provide any useful information or value to the player. Not to mention it would be impossible to come up with any fair criteria. It serves no purpose, as others have said, there is no "problem" here that needs to be solved.

    Besides, there are already the Unity awards and a crap ton of other awards like the GDC awards, etc.
     
  22. RichardKain

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    The only real "problem" exists for bored PC gamers who spend too much time digging through the dredges of Steam. Those are the only people who really get exposed to the Asset-Flip low-effort titles that give an engine like Unity a bad name. Most of the Unity titles that manage to make it onto best-of lists and get featured at the top of App-Store lists aren't an issue. Steam spelunkers do not make up a very large percentage of modern gamers, and aren't actually relevant to sales. As such they can be safely ignored by most developers.

    Cream rises to the top. This is a non-issue.
     
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  23. hippocoder

    hippocoder

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    As far as I am concerned there was an image problem back when there was a feature split. Because anything with a logo was bound to be a decade behind visually without image effects.

    It's a distant memory nowadays with faster than Boost compiler, ECS, Jobs giving above C++ performance, HD pipeline etc.
    If that's an image problem then it must be a good problem to have...


    = cool
     
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  24. Peter77

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    Here is a quote from an interview with the CEO of Unity Technologies:
    https://www.theguardian.com/technol...indie-gamings-biggest-engine-john-riccitiello
     
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  25. Joe-Censored

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    I highly doubt there is a significant enough number of people to be able to actually affect sales who would get excited about a game and then decide to not get it when they discover it is made with Unity. Good games are bought on their own merits, not the underlying engine.

    I did get a good laugh here at the suggestion Unity should throw their resources into competing in the game review business though. Even more hilarious is Unity should fund this misadventure by simply raising prices, as if higher prices automatically equals more revenue. Someone slept through econ class.
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2018
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  26. BIGTIMEMASTER

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    @OP,

    Are you trying to get a job?

    I don't think this is the best way. Everybody has idea's. Yours aren't novel.

    Otherwise, what's the purpose of reviving such a tired topic that nobody here has a stake in?
     
  27. JohnnyA

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    I've nothing useful to add but I love the 'steam spelunkers' line :)
     
  28. EternalAmbiguity

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    It still amazes me that the guy who worked at EA, left to purchase Pandemic and Bioware then sell them to EA, then returned to EA, then resigned under a cloud, is now in charge at Unity.

    As far as the thread is concerned, nothing really more to say. Any "image problem" unity has is so minor as to be insignificant.
     
  29. Arowx

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    A: Make an amazing AAA game using Unity, all you need is about $50-$100m and some AAA design, development and PR talent. Also keep the Unity logo on the game.
     
  30. hippocoder

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  31. Lurking-Ninja

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    Meh, this is like Windows has the most viruses and trojans. Why? Because more than 90% of the world's computers are running windows, so it's the best target for the bad guys.
    You're just suggesting Microsoft to put a disclaimer into the Windows that if they meet any viruses, MS have nothing to do with it. :D
    (Okay, it's not a perfect analogy, but close enough I think)

    I think UT should do nothing like this, they really should work on promotion of the very good games/movies made with Unity. Oh wait, they do that! So we're good.
     
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  32. Ryiah

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    Microsoft would totally do it too. :p
     
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