Will Lumberyard be a Unity Killer?

Yesterday a colleague sent me a link which absolutely thrilled me: Amazon has published a new game engine, Lumberyard. Why am I excited? Not only is it based on Crytek’s CryEngine, but it integrates Amazon’s AWS cloud service and is completely free at the same time. But is it enough to be a real threat to Unity‘s market dominance? I had a quick look at the Lumberyard page and here is my opinion.

The Cool Stuff

Lumberyard has a number of killer features which make it a real alternative to Unity. First of all, it is completely free of charge, no matter how large your company, so that as an Indie, you do not have to rely on a “Free” version which keeps some important features from you. The second thing is its integration into other Amazon services, most importantly the AWS cloud and the video streaming platform Twitch. And on top of that, you get the CryEngine, including its source code, which, as we know, is able to generate quite impressive results.

So what is Amazon’s business case of this is all for free? Quite simple: you pay for the servers in Amazon’s cloud as soon as players start to play your game. And this is quite cool since you do not have to pay for the servers up front or if your game flops.

And the downside?

Of course, Lumberyard was only just published as beta, and a lot of important features are still missing: a wider range of supported platforms, such as iOS and Android, and an asset store, to name just two. But I am sure those will come, so I currently see only one disadvantage, the scripting language. While Unity is scripted with JavaScript or C#, Lumberyard requires C++. This is not an issue for professional developer studios, but surely for many amateurs and indie studios.

The Conclusion

Lumberyard will surely stir the game engines market quite a bit. Any larger gaming company doing online games will have to have a look at it, as well as anyone else who cannot afford Unity or its extra modules. And unless the editor itself is absolutely crappy, quite a few people will stay. So unless Unity wants to lose a chunk of its market share in the coming years, they will have to rethink their pricing policy and continue to offer some unique features in their gaming ecosystem. However, competing with Amazon will be tough.

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