Back in March, shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 had attained the status of a pandemic, the makers of game engine Unity decided to open up their Premium learning courses. What had previously required an ongoing subscription was now free to everybody for three months. The original window has expired, and Unity isn't slamming the door shut. Instead, they've moved to make the content permanently free.
In a blog post today, Unity Technologies VP Jessica Lindl explained the reasoning behind the move:
On March 19, we opened up Unity Learn Premium to the community, offering three months of complimentary access to this comprehensive source of real-time 3D learning content and live access to Unity experts. We could not have anticipated the economy and job market we find ourselves in today. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to millions of jobs lost globally, and with figures like these, we know that this has impacted the livelihood of many people in our diverse community. The need to gain new skills quickly is more important than ever for those looking for new opportunities.
With over 350 hours of tutorials, plus the option for live access to Unity developers, there's more than enough to give would-be game makers a solid foundation in the Unity engine, as well as helping out-of-work devs keep their skills sharp. Of course, undertaking these courses will eat up a lot of time. Assuming five hours a day (and perfect retention of the material), that's 70 days or roughly ten weeks of course work to keep somebody occupied. On the other hand, that's ten weeks of learning which can be applied to any game project.
Naturally, there's no indication of how permanent this state of affairs will remain. One would think Unity Technologies would take a page from Epic Games and keep their courses free, but we'll see what happens after the pandemic is officially declared to be over.