Microsoft acquires software for debugging Unity games

Microsoft plans to fold the UnityVS debugger into Visual Studio

Looking to boost Visual Studio's capabilities for game builders, Microsoft is acquiring SyntaxTree, creator of a widely used Visual Studio plug-in for debugging games that run on the popular Unity game engine.

Microsoft plans to fold the functionality of the plug-in, called UnityVS, into Visual Studio. It will also post the plug-in online soon so that it can be downloaded free.

"UnityVS enables Unity developers to take advantage of the productivity of Visual Studio to author, browse and debug the code for their Unity applications. Already today, dozens of the biggest names in game development rely on Visual Studio and the UnityVS plugin," wrote S. Somasegar, Microsoft corporate vice president of the developer division, in a blog post announcing the impending purchase.

Unity is a widely used cross-platform game engine that can render two-dimensional and three-dimensional environments on screen, as well as provide the workflow management capabilities for complex game development. SyntaxTree's UnityVS provides the capability to debug Unity code within Visual Studio.

Currently, about 2 million developers use Unity Unity, according to Microsoft. The software can also be used to power non-gaming applications, such as interactive 3D walk-throughs.

Somasegar praised Unity for how easily it allows developers to target or port their games to the Windows desktop, Windows Store and Windows Phone.

Microsoft seems to be taking a heightened interest in serving the game development community of late. The company also recently developed a JavaScript library, called Babylon.js, to render 3D gaming graphics in Web browsers, using the WebGL standard. Ubisoft tested the software to build a Web version of its popular Assassin's Creed adventure pirate game.

Based in Marcy-l'Étoile, France, SyntaxTree is a privately held company specializing in developer tools. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is Joab_Jackson@idg.com

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