Unity developers are prioritizing efficiency, but frustrated by red tape

We asked over 200 mobile engineers, managers, and senior leaders about their day-to-day work and identified some emerging trends among Unity development orgs.

When it comes to mobile gaming, no development ecosystem is more popular than Unity.

With more than 70% of the biggest mobile games leveraging the Unity SDK, according to PocketGamer.biz, trends among developer orgs play an outsized role in shaping this space.

To better understand their priorities and current pain points, we went out and surveyed over 200 Unity mobile developers and compiled the results in our recent report.

While you can download the full report here, one of the most interesting trends to emerge from our survey was the tension between the need for speed and efficiency and the many complex systems and processes Unity developers are forced to navigate.

When we asked Unity developers to consider their day-to-day work and rank their top priorities, “accessing software/tools that make my work more efficient” ranked No. 1. This outranked building new features and improving app performance — the latter of which was the top priority in our wider survey of mobile app developers.

A bar graph shows Unity mobile developers' responses to the question "Considering the following aspects of your day-to-day work, which of these are most import to you personally?"
From the 2024 Unity Developer Pain Points survey. Download the full report, here.

Interestingly, when we filtered out managers and senior leaders, individual contributors (IC) reported the same top priority, but at higher volumes (48% vs 43%). They also ranked improving app performance higher than building new features.

With that in mind, the desire for efficiency may be driven, at least in part, by the considerable red tape Unity developers feel they must navigate.

According to our survey, more than half of all respondents said they have too many systems and processes to follow, ranking as their top frustration in their day-to-day work. This was followed by not having the agency needed to impact change within their orgs and lacking adequate tools to do their jobs (47% and 46%, respectively).

A bar graph shows Unity mobile developers' responses to the question "Which of these frustrate you the most in your day-to-day work?"
From the 2024 Unity Developer Pain Points survey. Download the full report, here.

While red tap is less of a problem when we narrow our focus to ICs, what’s noteworthy is that the pain of being under-resourced is more acutely felt. In fact, more than half of all Unity ICs reported not having the right tools to do their jobs (56%), not having the agency to affect change (51%), and — as a result — spending too much time fixing bugs (51%).

When we step back and look at these results in tandem, a picture begins to emerge: Unity development orgs are primarily focused on efficiency today, driven in part by a glut of systems and processes that slow down development and take resources away from feature building and performance optimization. ICs, who are under-resourced and feel ill-equipped to change that, are doing their best to maintain focus on user-impacting areas (like building new features) but ultimately end up wasting most of their time fixing bugs.

While Unity-specific tooling can go a long way in alleviating these issues, especially for ICs, the greater misalignment requires a better understanding of what’s driving development org’s day-to-day priorities and frustrations.

To learn more about our survey and how Unity ICs, managers, and senior leaders responded, download our full report here.

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