Game Maker Studio 1.0 Launched

Today YoYoGames announced the launch of Game Maker Studio 1.0. This long-awaited release finally gives Game Maker developers the ability to build games that run natively on Windows, OS X, iOS, Android, and HTML5. I’d heard some time ago that there was a Symbian module in the works as well, but I don’t see any mention of it in their releases — I doubt that it will be missed. Also announced today is that Game Maker HTML5 is no longer a standalone product, and has been folded into Studio.

I participated in the HTML5 beta as well as the Studio beta, and reported a fair number of bugs. While I’m enthusiastic, I think it remains to be seen how successful the new Studio will be — the impression I’ve gotten from my limited work in HTML5 is that the differences of each platform impose constraints on a unified project, and often during the beta I found that stuff that worked in a Windows build didn’t in HTML5. Hopefully that’s all just part of the beta. I definitely like the direction YoYoGames has been headed in, and as long as they execute, it should be a good time to be a Game Maker developer.

The highlights of Studio:

  1. Multi-platform build targeting
  2. Source Control
  3. new built-in Physics features

Game Maker’s proprietary language, GML, is going through some redesign as well, but we probably won’t see the full vision for a time, until Game Maker 9 is released. With Studio 1.0, it seems that YoYoGames has started deprecating certain functions, in order to drop Windows-specific stuff and embrace a more platform-agnostic approach, which should mean that developers won’t have to worry about whether a given instruction makes is supported or makes sense on the OS they’re targeting. Hopefully this will encourage cross-platform application releases and make them the norm rather than the exception.

With the launch, YoYoGames announced pricing, and it’s a little different from what I expected. The base Studio Core (giving you Windows and OS X build capability) is $99. Considering that Game Maker Standard was $40, roughly doubling the price to give you access to OS X seems reasonable.

The HTML5 module is an additional $99. $199 was the original price of HTML5, so for $198 you get Studio with the HTML5 extension. I think a lot of Game Maker users were shocked at the price jump, but when you consider how cool it is to have the capability of distributing your games through the web with no extra plug in or extension needed to run, it’s awfully nice.

The mobile platform modules are another $199 each for OS X and Android. This means the full Studio suite will run a developer almost $600, or 15 times what it costs for Standard. YoYoGames justifies this by saying that these are optional modules for professional developers, and I’m sure it costs them lots of money to develop the runner for these platforms. It’s a bit odd to think that for just $200 you can reach 3 major platforms, but to get another two platforms it triples the price. In any case, the idea seems to be that the ease of selling on the mobile markets makes it worth the cost of the tools, and I’m glad they tiered their pricing rather than force everyone to pay full price all or nothing. Starting out at $99 or $200 is a lot more reasonable, and buying the mobile modules later takes a bit of the sting out of the price. Compared with Unity Pro, which is $1500 for its base, and an additional $400 each for iOS and Android, it’s still quite inexpensive as a professional developer tool.

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