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Kinect is a "particular focus" for Unity on Xbox One - "it's just an amazing piece of hardware"

Engine creator will also tap into the Xbox cloud and SmartGlass

We've been chatting to Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason about how the company's mind-bogglingly popular Unity engine will work on Xbox One. He's not in a position to share everything about the partnership with Microsoft right now, but you can expect more news "soon" - at Gamescom next week, perhaps?

"There'll be more to tell soon, we'll be announcing - it's just that we'll be a bit early in the cycle so we've barely started talking about it," Helgason explained to us via phone interview. "One of the intentions is to go deep on hardware support and make sure that we export basically the best of what the Xbox has to offer."


The existing Unity tools already allow developers to export their work to Xbox 360 - an Xbox One export function will be added "later this year". Microsoft has also agreed to offer Microsoft Studios-published developers free access to Unity, as part of a campaign to lure budding creators onto Xbox. The firm will discuss its plans for Xbox One self-publishing at Gamescom on Tuesday - apparently smaller independents will have the same level of access to the console as their big budget blockbuster-making brethren.

Helgason is pretty sold on Xbox One, and especially the new Kinect. "Obviously the new Kinect is a kind of particular focus there," he said. "Because it's so powerful - it's actually [laughs] I don't know which kind of words to put on it - if I say it's ridiculous it sounds negative, but it's just an amazing piece of hardware.

"And the software behind it is actually a big part of that, the software that the engine has to support well to make this good. And so we're working on that."


This is rather good news, given general unease about whether developers will actually support the new Kinect, having largely deserted its predecessor over the past couple of years. It's hoped that indies with lower overheads will be able to take risks with it, discovering applications for motion sensitivity, object recognition and voice control that larger, more profit-driven companies won't conciliate.

Helgason also plans to support Xbox One's SmartGlass app, which allows devices to be tethered to the console for all sorts of "auxiliary" purposes, such as displaying backstory information on a phone during exploration of an open world. He'd like to "tap" into the Xbox One cloud, too.

"We're working on other things to make sure that we support the best of the rest of the platform. That'll be things like matchmaking, and we support the SmartGlass concept, and we make it easy to tap into Microsoft's cloud infrastructure."

This is partly because cross-device play and cloud gaming are concepts that transcend Xbox. "Microsoft is pushing it but I think it's a general trend that gamers expect their state to be saved," Helgason elaborated. "They expect to be able to log in on different devices, and things like that. So of course we're working with Microsoft's platforms to make it really easy there."

Watch out for more in the not-too-distant future, hopefully. Here are six questions Microsoft needs to answer at Gamescom regarding Xbox One and self-publishing, as posed by the pick of independent developers.

You can read more about the new Kinect in our Xbox One guide.