The Challenge: Create a new game concept based on one of five Universal-owned IPs: Back To The Future, Battlestar Galactica, Jaws, DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender and Turok.
The Process: Create a design document and video to explain the game concept. Receive mentoring & technical support from Microsoft and Intel who are sponsoring the event.
The Prize: $250,000 cash and a consulting contract with Universal – plus, of course, the task of evolving their concept into a full product.

As a result of an exciting partnership with NBC Universal, Unity have announced a new competition at GDC 2018 dubbed the Universal GameDev Challenge. Developers have just one month to put together a game concept, after which a panel of judges will choose six semi-finalists. A vertical slice of the concept will then have to be created by each remaining studio, who will go on to compete for the grand prize later in the year.

Vice president of marketing at Unity, Katrina Strafford, spoke to gamesindustry.biz about Universal’s desire to forge closer ties with the games industry.

"Universal initially came to Unity with the idea to give developers an opportunity to interact with their iconic brands. We then brought Microsoft and Intel into the conversation, as we knew they would have a lot to offer the community as well. Ultimately, all of us are committed to providing great opportunities to our developer community, so it was a natural fit."

It seems Universal are equally as enthusiastic about the collaboration as vice president of games, Chris Heatherly, had this to say:

"This is a new way for us to find developers that maybe wouldn't have been on our radar previously and see what they are capable of. We have developers approach us all the time with ideas for our IP but this is a much more organized way of doing it."
"And it takes a lot of the friction out of the process for everyone - so we don't have to do a bunch of contracts and negotiations upfront and can just focus on whether there is a compelling idea. The proof with games is in the pudding so this skips the 'talking' stage and gets us right into the 'show it' stage where good developers shine the best."

Each of the initial concepts produced by a studio will be assessed on four factors:

  • Creative use of the brand
  • Gameplay and narrative design
  • Capability
  • Integration of technology provided by Unity, Microsoft, and Intel.

With such a huge brand library, Universal will be hoping this will be the foundation of a larger push into the gaming industry, and the basis for future collaborations with studios and publishers alike.

Chris Heatherly concluded:

"We have means and determination to [support a full game], so it really comes down to the ideas. We're 100% committed to this contest and have confidence that we'll see something from this contest come to market."