Vancouver developer Roadhouse Interactive leads new Unity Games publishing effort with mobile game Freeride Ski Cross

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      An Android and iOS game about downhill ski racing will be the first title from Unity Games, a new publishing program from Unity Technologies, the developer of software used to make games.  

      Freeride Ski Cross, coming later this year, is being developed at Roadhouse Interactive.

      The studio’s creative head Ian Verchere teamed up with Jay Balmer (most recently on the Skate franchise for Electronic Arts) to design the game, which can be played by tapping and touching with only one hand. 

      In demonstrating the game for the Straight, Verchere said it was important that Freeride could be played by people standing up on the subway. 

      The game, which looks stunning, manages to convey a sense of caroming down a ski hill, and is structured like some mobile car racing games. “It’s a gear-driven game,” said Verchere.

      Winning races earns players prize money that they can use to purchase new clothing and equipment which improves the skier’s ability. 

      Players can race against the clock, or can challenge friends with asynchronous online races, meaning you can race others people without having to be simultaneously connected. “We don’t expect people to be online all the time,” said Verchere. “While I’m asleep or in another time zone, my friends are racing against me and challenging me.”

      Freeride will have 50 racetracks at launch.

      Verchere, who used to ski professionally, explained that the beginning of his ski season used to begin with an offering to Ullr, the Norse god of skiing.

      “We would burn all our skis and get really drunk,” he laughed. “If we didn’t do it, the season would suck.”

      Ullr, like the Mighty Eagle in the Angry Birds franchise, can be summoned in Freeride to help players who get stuck on a hill. “But you have to make an offering,” said Verchere.

      Head and Volkl are brand partners. 

      The announcement of Unity’s publishing venture was made during the keynote presentation at Unite 2013, the conference that opened today (August 28) at the Vancouver Convention Centre. 

      In a release, Unity Technologies CEO David Helgason said that Unity Games will be supported by Unity Cloud, which enables developers to run advertising in their mobile games. The Unity Cloud service will also provide analytics, marketing, and monetization capabilities. 

      Other developers that will be releasing games through Unity Games include Black Tower Studios, Electric Eggplant, Mimimi Productions, N-Fusion Interactive, and Spark Plug Games.