"Integrating tools that provide effortless access to Facebook's network is a key part of helping developers find the success they deserve," Unity's VP of business development, Elliot Solomon, said in a canned statement from a press release.
This is big for a few reasons. For starters, Unity is a wildly popular, free-to-use tool employed across the industry by countless indie developers. You've probably played a few titles built with it and not even realized. Firewatch, Kerbal Space Program, Ori and the Blind Forest, Superhot, Monument Valley and Alto's Adventure, just to name a few, were all developed using the Unity toolset. In theory, those could be ported to Facebook's platform with very little extra work from their respective developers. And that's to say nothing of the myriad VR apps Unity powers.
Which is where this makes the most sense: Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but at some point, Facebook is going to need a way to sell Oculus VR games and its new platform will help that happen. Facebook says it paid out over $2.5 billion to web-game devs last year alone, and that there are over 650 million players on its gaming network. For context, in the past 48 hours, Steam reported 11 million concurrent users. What's a curiosity now will very likely be a dominating force in the not too distant future.
Facebook is running a closed alpha test of the new work environment right now, and applications to join
are open until August 31st. The social network promises "immediate access" to testing the engine's latest build and the export function.