Unity Software, builder of the popular cross-platform game engine, announced the acquisition of digital-effects powerhouse Weta Digital for $1.65 billion. Under the terms of the agreement, Unity will make Weta’s ultra-powerful digital creation tools available to creators and developers as part of its broader product portfolio.
“The unified tools and the incredible scientists and technologists of Weta Digital will accelerate our mission to give content creators easy to use and high-performance tools to bring their visions to life,” Unity wrote in a highly detailed blog posting about the acquisition. “This pipeline has been developed with an artists-first mentality and the result is an incredible set of tools capable of the pinnacle of visual effects (VFX) forged within the uncompromising schedules of hundreds of film and TV productions.”
Will adding a new collection of powerful tools make Unity more popular among game developers, illustrators, and software engineers? The acquisition literally makes that a billion-dollar question.
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of job postings from across the country, there’s relatively low demand among employers for technologists with Unity skills. Over the past 12 months, some 2,002 job postings nationwide have mentioned Unity; based off that data, Burning Glass projects Unity-related job growth at -11.5 percent over the next two years. Before you dismiss that user base as too tiny for serious consideration, though, it’s helpful to remember that Unity is also a highly specialized tool; it’s not like an ultra-popular programming language with millions of users.
Burning Glass also estimates the median salary for Unity-related jobs at $89,758. Top occupations requesting Unity skills include software developer/engineer, artist/illustrator, web developer, computer programmer, and UI/UX designer/developer. Some 2.9 percent of video game designer job postings request Unity skills.
Let’s compare that with demand for Unreal, the rival platform when it comes to game development. According to Burning Glass, employers issued 5,066 job postings asking for Unreal skills over the past 12 months; however, it predicts that demand for Unreal skills will grow 49.1 percent over the next two years. The median salary for Unreal-related jobs is $81,336, a bit lower than Unity. Top occupations requesting Unreal skills include—you guessed it—software developer/engineer, artist/illustrator, computer programmer, multimedia designer/animator, and video game designer.
It’s notable that 18.7 percent of video game designer jobs ask for Unreal skills, along with 4.7 percent of artist/illustrator jobs. That’s a sign that Unreal has a bit more market share among a highly specialized audience—yet another reason for Unity to contemplate an aggressive acquisition in order to catch up. If you’re interested in learning Unity, the company offers a variety of educational materials, including Unity Essentials, a 1- to 2-week dive into the basics of Unity.