There once was a company called Criterion…

Well today is the last day to get pre-order Unity 3.0 pricing. You might want to take advantage of it now. But this glorious day brings me to my latest conspiracy theory.

Back in ye olden days of the early 2000s, there was this game company called Criterion. In addition to making games, part of Criterion’s business was licensing out their engine, RenderWare, for both PC/Mac and consoles.

Nobody seemed to actually like RenderWare–complaints about everything from engine performance to the atrocious asset management toolset were common amongst developers. However, it was one of the earliest middleware solutions for the PlayStation 2. Epic’s console licensing business didn’t really take off until the XBOX 360–although many notable games were made with Epic’s PS2-era engine offering.

To make a long story short, after the breakout success of Criterion’s Burnout series, EA bought them from their parent company, Canon. Shortly after this, Criterion’s engine licensing business ceased as EA attempted to adopt the tech internally. Many developers became suspicious of licensing RenderWare anyway–why would you want part of your game’s royalties going to EA if they weren’t your publisher?

Which is why this recent press release about EA and Unity’s ‘deep partnership’ disturbs me. Unity3D is venture backed. In fact, by some of the same VCs that have invested in EA. And we all know VC investors are looking for big exits. Being purchased by EA is a popular one as of late.

Although I just made yet another investment in the Unity platform–I am considering alternatives. You should too.

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