Versions of Unity

Unity comes in two basic flavors: the pro version and the free version. There are a number of differences (you can see the full list here), but, broadly speaking, the pro version supports a number of visual improvements (like real-time soft shadows and post-processing), and a large number of relatively minor features that are extremely helpful for more complex games. That said, for most relatively simple games you might want to build, the free version of Unity is per- fectly adequate. We’ll break down the key differences below in more detail for those interested.

2.1 Pricing

The free version of Unity is, of course, free. However, there are a few limitations: the free version of Unity cannot be licensed to any company with an annual income of more than $100,000. While such organizations are beyond the scope of this guide, if you suspect you might become such an organization, it’s probably wise to spring for the Pro ver- sion.

The Pro version of Unity is $75 a month, or $1500 for a permanent license, and has no limits on what you can do with the games created with it. There is also a 30-day free trial available, which we’ll be using for this guide, in order to give you as complete an overview of the available features as possible. A one-year student license is also available through Studica for $129.

2.2 Features

There are many features absent in the free version of Unity. However, the most important differences are as follows: the free version of Unity lacks a number of rendering options that allow for better-looking, faster-running games (LOD support, screen-space post-processing, advanced shaders, real-time soft shadows, and deferred rendering). It also lacks the full mechanim animation system, and some AI tools. In general, for complex, large-scale projects, or projects where graphical performance is important, the pro version is worthwhile. I use the pro version, because I develop vir- tual reality games for the Oculus Rift, and the screen-space post-processing support is necessary to correctly interact with the headset.

You can check out an early alpha build of one of my VR games,BeatRunner. It should give you a sense for what Unity makes possible.