Unity acquires Vivox

The latest acquisition adds to Unity’s tools for connected games.

Is there a game, aside from Monopoly that is, that celebrates the cutthroat nature of capitalism pitting competitors against each other in a fight to bankruptcy and turning allies against each other? Probably. The game is being played out in full force by Unity Technologies and Epic as both companies fight to build their technology portfolios to enable them to attract high-end content developers.

Unity lags a bit behind because it doesn’t have the war chest that Epic has, but it is building and it has had good success in Hollywood as a virtual production tool.

The company acquired Vivox in January 2019 and got itself new technology for voice and text tools in games. Vivox will become a wholly owned subsidiary operating independently out of Framingham, MA. Founder and CEO Rob Seaver is staying with the team.

Vivox has been integrated into more than 125 games including significantly enough FortniteLeague of Legends, and Korean Battle Royale game, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds from Bluehole. Unity is betting that voice will become a major driver for games as the landscape shifts to cloud-based and mobile platforms.

The company enables positional voice chat to allow gamers to hear each other directionally in 3D space. Unity says voice communication is critical for connected games because people enjoy playing games together across the internet and voice makes the experience much more personal.

Vivox features a developer portal that supports up to 5,000 peak concurrent users (PCUs). The company’s founder and CEO Rob Seaver says, “it has always been our mission to provide game developers the easiest communications services for their games, regardless of platform, scale, or size.” He adds that the partnership with Unity gives Vivox access to a wide range of game developers. Unity’s latest self-assessment estimates that the game is on more than 3 billion devices worldwide. And, the company says, the Unity engine powers half of all the games out there.

What do we think?

There are rumors that Unity hopes to go public in 2020. If that’s so, we’ll all have a better idea of the company’s numbers, which we have no doubt are reasonably huge. The company has been hiring talent. We noticed just a little while ago that Bill Roberts, who had been at Autodesk and more recently helped build Adobe’s video juggernaut, has moved to Unity. Roberts is heading the film business. The company has requisitions out for developers in all areas.

Unity is successful, but the company probably could use a big infusion of cash to take on Epic. However, going isn’t going to be easy for the company which, like Epic, reveals in its freedom of movement.