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Dean Takahashi interviewed both John Riccitiello, CEO of Unity, and Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, at the Game Developers Conference about the state of the two most popular game engines. It is hard to say which company is really in the stronger position because we don’t know most of the numbers. But there is something we know about Unity and Unreal Engine.
John Riccitiello states that Unity-based games were installed more than 16 billion times in 2016, up 31 percent from 2015, reaching a billion new devices. He also stated that 59% of VR developers go with Unity, referring to a research by VisionMobile. 38% of the top 1,000 free games are made with Unity, and more than half of all Daydream apps are said to be powered by the engine.
We’re picking up four or five market share points a year. Our growth last year was three times the business of the next-largest game engine in the West. More people build an Apple with Unity than anyone else. Ditto with Google and ditto with Microsoft.
Then Sweeney stated that Unreal Engine had its best year of all time if you look at revenues that doubled the 2015 numbers. Developers have made more than $10 billion with the power of Unreal Engine.
We think that Unreal Engine’s market share is double the nearest competitor in revenues. This is despite the fact that Unity has more users. This is by virtue of the fact that Unreal is focused on the high end. More games in the top 100 on Steam in revenue are Unreal, more than any other licensable engine competitor combined.
It is hard to say if Epic’s revenues are bigger than Unity’s. There are 2 million games built with Unity and a smaller number of Unreal games.
I think Unreal does a lot of good things, and I don’t begrudge them. We’re in a different position than them. We are many times larger in our market impact. Tim is an incredibly smart guy and very outspoken. They have a different revenue stream in that they make games. I could argue they compete with their customers.