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Bring more players into your game with Unity Multiplayer Services
BENJY BOXER / Anonymous
Apr 8, 2024|8 Min
Bring more players into your game with Unity Multiplayer Services

In the 2024 Unity Gaming Report, 68% of studios said they’re developing multiplayer games – a number that’s risen steadily over the last few years in response to increasing player demand.

Multiplayer games offer more competition and community, encouraging greater engagement and retention. In 2023, mobile-only games with multiplayer features had 40.2% more monthly active users (MAU) than single-player games, and overall multiplayer gaming revenue grew by 10%, a substantial bump compared to 0.6% YoY industrywide.

Achieving that success requires investing a lot more into development, operations, and player retention, but this additional complexity is manageable with the right tools. Instead of solving all of these problems in-house, many game developers fill the gaps in their networking stack with solutions custom-built to help dev teams stay focused on gameplay. According to one study, 88% of studios are looking for new tools to meet their needs for demanding game projects.

By offering Netcode for GameObjects and Netcode for Entities frameworks, as well as Unity Gaming Services (UGS) multiplayer solutions like Unity Multiplay Hosting and Vivox Voice Chat, Unity’s suite of live game tools covers the entire multiplayer game development journey, from concept and prototyping through to launch and live operations. This flexible system enables you to build within Unity’s ecosystem or mix and match whichever tools and services you need to fit your game and development team’s needs.

Games with community are more engaging, have a lasting impact on gamers’ lives, and monetize better for their developers. My fondest childhood memories are playing multiplayer mode in games like Goldeneye, Red Alert, and Halo with my friends. Those memories wouldn’t be possible without their early versions of local, co-op, and online multiplayer.

In today’s games industry, retaining customers and creating an engaging community are more important than ever. This is the most effective way to create a game that lasts forever and delivers long-term business success, which is why we’re continuing to invest heavily in multiplayer dev tools and services to help you build, deploy, and operate multiplayer games.

Studios are succeeding with Unity Multiplayer Services
 A player targets a mountain hideaway in the video game Breachers, by Triangle Factory

Multiplayer Services power boldly innovative games. When Triangle Factory created Breachers, a 5v5 first-person shooter for VR, their strategic focus was on maximizing player reach through cross-platform access while keeping the lean studio team focused on gameplay. To do it, they needed the multiplayer backend on track with as little friction as possible.

Using Multiplay Hosting, they were able to reduce server costs with a hybrid server solution, scaling quickly to 110k MAU in the first month, supported by UGS backend architecture and Multiplay Hosting. They also used a range of Multiplayer Services to simplify their stack and accelerate development time, including Authentication, Matchmaker, Vivox Voice Chat, and Leaderboard.

“Unity Multiplayer Services has reduced development time on player features from a few weeks to a few days,” says Pieter Vantorre, Triangle Factory’s CTO. “Had we built everything ourselves, it would’ve required more resources and significantly more funds.”

StickyLock also opted to use several Multiplayer Services together to streamline a complex development process. “It’s hard to quantify the exact amount of time that UGS has saved us, but I would put it in the ballpark of hundreds to thousands of dev hours,” says Jamel Ziaty, producer of StickyLock’s upcoming multiplayer game Histera.

The StickyLock team was already tackling a big game concept – a fast-paced dystopian first-person shooter given a twist by a novel game mechanic called “the glitch,” which bounces players into different historical eras. The small team needed all hands on deck to execute on gameplay, so getting coverage in their multiplayer stack was crucial.

“We chose multiplayer UGS because we wanted to have a third party take care of all complex logic for us so we could focus on the core gameplay of Histera,” Ziaty explains. “We use quite a few services from UGS, and it’s very useful to get them with one single provider. There’s less glue between various services for us to worry about.”

Gameplay from StickyLock’s Histera
Scale with your player base using Unity Multiplay Hosting

In these games and many others, Multiplay Hosting has been tested at scale for performance, capacity, and customer savings:

  • Unity Gaming Services hosts 77 million game sessions a month.
  • Multiplay Hosting has supported more than 3 million concurrent users, demonstrating its ability to scale.
  • Recently, Unity supported more than 175,000 game servers running concurrently.
  • Multiplay Hosting reduces hosting cost per player by 30–40%.
  • Multiplay Hosting has access to 292 data center locations.

We want to support every customer that is building a multiplayer game. For that reason, we offer services ranging from Relay, Matchmaker, Distributed Authority, and Multiplay Hosting. To support the rapid growth in options for hosting multiplayer games, we’re making Multiplay Hosting agnostic to the hosting hardware by relying on our industry-leading, cloud and bare-metal hybrid approach that has scaled to millions of players whenever a game needs it. That means you will be able to rely on us to provide the infrastructure, or you can bring your own compute to Multiplay Hosting through your favorite cloud provider.

We’re adjusting our multiplayer hosting and tools to offer greater flexibility to ensure that you can use the multiplayer hosting solution that has demonstrated reliability, performance, and success for years.

Unity’s ongoing commitment to multiplayer gaming
Megacity metro sample

We’re continuing to invest heavily in multiplayer game development and have a lot of exciting new features planned:

  • Greater cloud flexibility: Bring Your Own Compute (BYOC) lets you run your game directly on the infrastructure you choose from our partner network.
  • Flexible cloud provider marketplace spending: Our products and services will be available on the cloud providers marketplaces, enabling you to use your existing commits/spends with them.
  • Additional CI/CD and observability options: Build the CI/CD pipeline you need with new external bucket upload and build tagging options, while new self-serve logs and metrics exports improve your game observability.
  • Distributed authority:This brand-new network topology enables you to build large-scale multiplayer games with deep simulation in a cost-effective way, without the complexity of dedicated servers.
  • New multiplayer game sample: We recently released Megacity Metro, a sample game that offers a blueprint for end-to-end multiplayer development in Unity, including services like Multiplay Hosting, Matchmaker, and Vivox Voice Chat.
  • Multiplayer VR template, coming soon: Setting up multiplayer for VR games is difficult, so we’re making that easier with our new Multiplayer VR template, built on top of OpenXR and announced in the Unity Roadmap session at GDC 2024.

We’re also simplifying your multiplayer game development with deeper integration between the Unity Engine and Unity Multiplayer Services in Unity 6, including:

  • Multiplayer Play Mode delivers a first-class Editor experience so you can quickly test game functionality.
  • Multiplayer Center streamlines your project setup.
  • Unity Multiplayer Services, including Matchmaking, Lobby, and Vivox Voice Chat, allow for quick experimentation and richer gameplay, and these are integrated into the Unity Editor.
  • Leverage Relay and Multiplay Hosting for smoother development, playtesting, and deployment.
  • Check out the GDC 2024 Roadmap session to learn more about what’s in store and how these tools work together.

I’m excited that we’re extending the flexibility of our Multiplay Hosting to support customers however they want to run their infrastructure. At the same time, we’re democratizing multiplayer game development to support any type of game for any device with a simple integration into the Unity Engine. With these investments, Multiplayer Services will continue to be the go-to solution for the most demanding, high-performance games and support the growing adoption of multiplayer gameplay across the industry.

Stay ahead of the latest multiplayer development tools and share your feedback in the Multiplayer Forum. Check out the recent “Multiplayer resource roundup” blog post for the latest templates, samples, and demos for hands-on learning for all things multiplayer, including our new Megacity Metro sample game.