The Unity GUI Saga

It’s been a few years now since we’ve discussed the Unity GUI system on our blog.

This system is really easy and fast to use when creating some simple user interfaces, which makes it ideal for prototyping.
On the flip side, it’s not very performant on mobile, and doesn’t really allow a non-programmer to modify the UI.


When Unity announced that they were creating an improved replacement for this GUI system, they inadvertently started a seemingly never ending saga. Here’s a quick overview, and some light on when the new GUI system may be released:

  1. June 2011, Unity initiated the saga by announcing that they were working on an improved replacement for this:

    We’re rewriting the in-game GUI system from the ground. We’ve made it simple and intuitive to create modern game interfaces with tons of animations and other effects. Everything is assembled in a visual GUI editor. A lot of effort is going into optimizing the GUI system for minimizing run-time overhead through automatic texture atlases and aggressive coverage-based batching.

  2. December 2011, Tasharen Entertainment’s NGUI system was released – an improved system for UI in Unity. This system became popular very quickly, and became the standard UI system for many developers who make their games in Unity.

    Just shy of the 2 month mark since its release, NGUI has reached the #1 spot on the Top Paid list on the Asset Store

  3. November 2012: The person behind Tasharen Entertainment, Michael Lyashenko, got hired by Unity Technologies to work on the new Unity GUI system:

    Q: What will you be working on at Unity?
    A: The UI system, of course.

  4. January 2014: Michael Lyashenko quit Unity technologies to pursue his own interests.
  5. March 2014: David Helgason, the CEO of Unity Technologies, mentioned in his blog post announcing Unity 5 that the new GUI system is under its way:

    Btw. if you were wondering, the new GUI system is getting really close and it’ll be included in Unity 4.6, which will also be the last major update in the Unity 4 cycle.

  6. At the same day as the Unity 5 blog post, a Unity forum user who was paying attention noticed that, hidden between the Frequently Asked Questions about the recently announced Unity 5, an approximative release datum was added:

    Q: What is happening with the new GUI system?
    A: The new GUI system will be in Unity 4.6, which will be released this Summer.

Meanwhile, a fellow Belgian even created a website called “is the new GUI out yet .com“, seemingly mocking with the situation, while informing people about the last news fact on the (hopefully) upcoming UI system…

To be continued!

2 thoughts on “The Unity GUI Saga”

  1. Paul says:

    You are skipping over a lot of important and interesting events:

    1) first came guitexture

    2) then came IMGUI (Immediate mode gui) which as of this writing is the available built in gui framework from unity.

    3) a better gui framework was the most wanted feature for a long time.

    4) then they developed a new gui system

    5) Then they threw that away, hired Michael to do an NGUI based solution

    6) Then it seems Michael left, and they again changed the whole thing. I don’t know if they would call it a rewrite, but it looks radically different from the first demos Michael did.

    too lazy to look for dates or more details.

  2. Thanks a lot for the great addition, Paul!

    By the way, I just noticed this Unity forum blog post made a couple of days ago with a 30 minute overview of the new GUI system:

    It also seems there was an other person who dedicated a blog post on the Unity GUI Struggle (as he called it):

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *