As someone who has used both Buildbox and Unity to make games, I read with extreme interest a post by Venturebeat about the announcement of AppOnboard's new CEO, Mike Seavers. This could be one of the biggest wins for the company ever since Jonathan Zweig and AppOnboard acquired Buildbox last year. Zweig himself is an experienced entrepreneur, having co-founded AdColony in 2008 (sold to Opera for $350m in 2014) and co-founded AppOnboard in 2016. AppOnboard has raised $35m from investors, according to Crunchbase, and the new appointment could lead to new funding rounds when the time is right. This is going to lead to a very interesting David vs Goliath battle between AppOnboard's Buildbox and Unity Technologies.
Unity is a behemoth in the world of games development. Some stats: Founded 2004.2,000+ employees worldwide.$1.3bn funding raised.Led by John Riccitiello. CV includes being CEO at EA, stints at PepsiCo and Clorox and co-founding Elevation Partners in 2004.Unity's engine was launched in 2005.Unity's engine can be used with over 25 gaming platforms.1.3 million developers use Unity's engine.
Buildbox is the David in this battle. Firstly, let us look at some stats about AppOnboard, the company that acquired it: Founded in 2016.Raised $35m from investors. Between 11-50 employees according to Crunchbase. Acquired Buildbox in 2019.Buildbox was founded in 2014 by Trey Smith and Nik Rudenko. The company announced in 2017 that over 100 games built with Buildbox have been featured by Apple, with 500,000 Buildbox users and growing (announced in 2019, the numbers would have grown since then). Some of the most famous games built with Buildbox include Phases, The Line Zen, Color Switch, The Pit and many more.
Mike Seavers comes from Riot Games. PC gamers will know them as the creators of League of Legends and Valorant. League of Legends is one of the biggest eSports titles, with numerous competitions and teams vying to compete for titles. Valorant, despite being a newer game, has the potential to be one of the biggest multiplayer shooters, right up there with Apex Legends and Call of Duty: Warzone.
Seavers has over 25 years' experience in the gaming industry, as Venturebeat notes: "Seavers is a 25-year game and software veteran who was most recently CTO of Riot Games and was heavily involved in the creation of Riot’s Legends of Runeterra as well as League of Legends."
This level of experience will be crucial to help Buildbox grow and compete against bigger competitors such as Unity Technologies as well as smaller competitors such as YoYo Games' GameMaker Studio 2.
Get More Publishers On Board
If Seavers wants to make waves, he should strike partnerships with as many game publishers as possible. The company has already made a partnership with British mobile game publisher Kwalee and this is a good start to getting more users. More please. A deal with Voodoo.io, one of the giants of the hyper-casual game world, would be great (the company has published games made with Buildbox before) but a deal with a PC or console game publisher would be a coup. AppOnboard is young and scrappy enough to make deals to help it grow rapidly.
Challenge Unity On Pricing
If Buildbox really wants to make a dent, make users a deal they cannot refuse. Unity's personal plan is extremely tempting for first time game developers as it offers access to a lot for functionality for free. The company has dedicated plans for businesses, something Buildbox does not. AppOnboard could help Buildbox make a splash by offering a competitive plan for first time users (perhaps by introducing a certain amount of free mobile exports for its free plan) and introducing a business plan for teams of developers keen to use the software.
Enable Console Exports In Buildbox
Why can't we have Buildbox built games on Nintendo's eShop? Or on the PlayStation 4? Xbox One? This would be a great way to showcase some of the amazing games built with software (One Wheel by TapMen would be a good fit, for example) With the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X set to launch less than a few months away, this would make an excellent weapon in Seavers' arsenal. Improve Android Performance In Buildbox 3D GamesThis is where Seavers' engineering prowess could shine. 3D Android games built with Buildbox don't have the same level of performance as their iPhone counterparts. Unity, on the other hand, offers great performance for both platforms no matter the device. An improvement to the engine could help even out the playing field and encourage more Android developers to come on board.
Launch an Asset Store For Buildbox Users
One of the biggest attractions of using Unity is the asset store. You can get everything from templates to asset packs at competitive prices.
An asset store for Buildbox users would be a great step in attracting more developers to the software. AppOnboard could even offer a subscription service, offering a certain amount of products every month for a fixed fee.
Multiplayer will eventually be coming to Buildbox. This should help attract more users by adding a much requested feature. The company should aim to make it easy as possible to implement, which would lure away any potential Unity users.
Make Buildbox Work Offline
Perhaps one of the biggest disadvantages Buildbox has over Unity is that you can't use it offline. You need a constant internet connection to use the software. AppOnboard need to get this changed soon. Not every user will have a reliable internet connection and this could be a massive selling point once solved.
Augmented reality, virtual reality and machine learning are just three of the technologies that could potentially be huge in the future. AppOnboard could out-innovate Unity Technologies by partnering with exciting new startups developing new applications in these areas and helping to implement them in Buildbox.
Shout from the Rooftops!
One of the biggest challenges Buildbox faces is that some developers do not view it seriously. This is a problem that can be solved with the right positioning in the market - perhaps to solve this, there could be another version called 'Buildbox Pro' aimed at businesses and teams of developers.
Visual scripting: Unity's Ace?
One of the often cited alternatives to Buildbox is playMaker™. Developed by Hutong Games™, this is an affordable visual scripting tool ($65) for Unity. Games like Hearthstone, Hollow Knight and INSIDE were all created with it. AppOnboard needs to emphasize the value offered by Buildbox to create a compelling argument against visual scripting tools.
Things are going to get very interesting with the new appointment. There must have been something very attractive about Buildbox to get Seavers on board and it will be very exciting to see what changes he makes to help tackle Unity's foothold in the market. Let the battle commence!
Previously published at https://staticcatgames.blogspot.com/2020/07/buildbox-versus-unity-let-the-battle-begin.html