Unity and Universal Open Worldwide GameDev Challenge

Bob Gale of Back to the Future among panel of judges.

A worldwide contest was recently announced by Univeral Games and Unity Technologies, the “Universal GameDev Challenge,” which is sponsored by Microsoft and Intel. The goal is to reach out to Unity developers around the world to build a PC game which utilizes one of five of the following intellectual properties owned by Universal: Jaws, Battlestar Galactica, DreamWorks Voltron Legendary Defender, Turok, and my personal favorite, Back to the Future.

The winner and the runner-up will not only take home a combined cash prize worth $250,000, but also a consulting contract with Microsoft, Unity, and Universal.

According to the announcement, “this marks the first time that Universal is providing developers with an open invitation to create games based on some of its most popular films and television shows. Independent game developers will have a unique opportunity to work on NBCUniversal IP and share their creative vision.”

What’s more, none other than Back to the Future co-creator, co-writer, and co-producer Bob Gale will be one of the four judges on the contest’s panel. Joining him will be Geogrify Chief Executive Officer and Principal Consultant Kate Edwards, Voltron Legendary Defender showrunner and Co-executive Producer for Dreamworks TV Lauren Montgomery, and GamesBeat Lead Writer Dean Takahashi.

“The partnership between Unity and Universal, with sponsorship from Intel and Microsoft, is the perfect blend of advanced hardware and software, combined with classic film and TV properties, which we believe will inspire our developer community to bring those brands to life in a game of their dreams,” said Unity Technologies Vice President of Marketing, Kat Strafford. “We can’t wait to see the incredible content that comes to life from the Universal GameDev Challenge.”

“The Universal Games Dev Challenge is an entirely new approach for entertainment and media companies to work with the indie game community,” adds Universal Brand Development Executive Vice President of Games and Digital Platforms, Chris Heatherly. “The incredible properties we are showcasing in this contest are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the vast portfolio of IP we have at NBCUniversal. This is a fresh and innovative way for us to find developers who are passionate about bringing those properties to life through games.”

It should be interesting (and hopefully exciting) to see what the indie gaming community comes up with for these properties. Some have already been featured across multiple video games before — Turok is especially notable in this regard, as he might even be better known today for his video game appearances than the comic books which spawned them. Meanwhile, Back to the Future has seen highs and lows, from the praised Back to the Future: The Game by Telltale Games on more recent platforms to the maligned Back to the Future for the Nintendo Entertainment System, and various others in-between. Jaws has seen even less fortune in this arena, with the most notorious being the NES title that came from the same publisher as that platform’s Back to the Future titles, the now long-defunct LJN.

Universal announced last year that they were significantly building up their games division with the intent of taking on a more active approach to both developing and publishing titles. The Universal GameDev Challenge marks one of their first “bold” steps moving forward.

For more information about the Universal GameDev Challenge, including rules, terms, how to submit your project, and more, visit the Unity Connect page here and click on “Briefing”. For the full press release, which includes the Challenge Timeline, visit BackToTheFuture.com.

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David Oxford

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