Microsoft's mobile misses out on prolific game engine

Unity will not support ‘closed’ Windows Phone 7

The Unity engine does not support Windows Phone 7 because of restrictions placed on Microsoft’s mobile, the CEO of Unity Technologies has said.

David Helgason (pictured), whose company has built one of the world’s most popular game engines, told Develop that Unity is “skipping” Windows Phone 7 support.

“But we’re looking at Windows Phone 8 and hopefully it will be easier to work on that system,” he said.

In an interview with Develop, to be published soon, Helgason explained Windows Phone 7 “is a relatively closed system so you can’t run native content, which means we can’t really support it”.

“We could, in theory, do what we’ve done with Flash, which is to rewrite the engine so it works inside a non-native environment. So it could be done in theory, but it’s very much in theory because that would require a huge amount of work an uncertain results.”

Helgason said an extra effort was made to support Flash “because we see the platform as very important and the results are great”.


Third party applications and games for Windows Phone must be based on XNA or a specific version of Silverlight. It means that an exemption to this rule would be required to run third-party engines, and it appears that Unity has previously requested such access.

“We talk to Microsoft a lot, and we were involved in looking at Windows Phone 7 early on, but they couldn’t open up the platform, and that led to us deciding to not support it,” he said.

More than 1000 iOS apps have been built through the Unity engine, as well as hundreds of Android applications. The engine also builds to PC, Mac, the four leading browsers, Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360.

Windows Phone is possibly the highest-profile games platform that isn’t supported by the engine.

Microsoft has on occasion given certain developers access to its native APIs, but this appears to be a rare occurrence.

David Whatley, the company president of Critical Thoughts Games, recently claimed that Windows Phone 7 needs to open up to succeed as a gaming platform.

“The real missing element for game developers is the lack of triple-A gaming engines,” he said.

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