Microsoft acquires SyntaxTree, creator of UnityVS plugin for Visual Studio

Game developers build the apps that hundreds of millions of users play every day across a wide variety of devices, from Xbox and Windows to iOS, Android and the Web. Games are the most popular application type on every major mobile platform, and Windows has long been a great home for desktop gaming. For developers, Visual Studio has been one of the most heavily used tools for game development across the industry, used by big game studios and indie developers alike.

Over the last 10 years, the Unity cross-platform game engine has grown to become a widely used rendering engine and tool for game developers targeting desktop, consoles, mobile devices and the web, with over 2 million developers now using Unity for game development. Unity offers great support for targeting or porting to Windows, across Windows desktop, Windows Store and Windows Phone.

Today, I'm pleased to announce that we are acquiring SyntaxTree, the developers of the UnityVS plugin for Visual Studio.

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.

With this acquisition, we have the opportunity to integrate this support for Unity even more deeply into Visual Studio, and to continue to push forward Visual Studio's support for game developers.  Microsoft will also make the existing UnityVS plugin available for free on our download site shortly.

[EDIT 7/29/2014:  Visual Studio Tools for Unity 1.9 is now available for download]

In today's mobile-first, cloud-first world, Visual Studio provides a great development environment for game developers targeting the breadth of mobile devices, and connecting to the rich services platforms in Azure.

I am excited about our opportunity to continue to push game development with Visual Studio forward with the help of the SyntaxTree team.


Comments (101)

  1. Shawn says:

    Great news guys! I started learning Unity and I was really disappointed that I couldn't debug with VS.

  2. Patrick Smacchia says:


  3. EnzoTen says:

    Thank You! MonoDevelop was such a chore to use with Unity. Now go buy Unity 😉

  4. EnzoTen says:

    Thank you so much for this! MonoDevelop was such a chore to use. Great to see UnityVS will be free.

  5. Igor says:

    where is the download link 😀 ??

  6. Marcos says:

    Any plans to make UnityVS work on free versions of Visual Studio as well?

  7. Takuan Daikon says:

    This is great news indeed.

    I purchased UnityVS about six months ago because I dearly wanted to use Visual Studio for debugging, but was ultimately quite disappointed in UnityVS. It did allow debugging my Unity app code in Visual Studio, but was not well integrated, had an intrusive workflow, and just wasn't the seamless experience I'd hoped it would be.

    Having better integration with Visual Studio and support from Microsoft may make this plugin really shine. I'll never give up Visual Studio, as it's the best development environment available bar none, but it will be great to not have to load up Monodevelop anymore just to debug a thorny issue.

  8. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:

    @Takuan Daikon

    I’m sorry you didn’t have a great experience with the existing UnityVS plugin. We’re really excited about the core technology and the team that brought it to life and when we talked with each other about how we want to make it better, the kinds of issues you’re raising were frequent in our discussion. If you’re interested, you can contact me offline and we can talk more about specific issues you’re running into. My email is

  9. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    It's not up yet. As we transition the software from SyntaxTree to Microsoft there are some changes we want to make, mostly minor fix-ups to the license, logo, and so on to reflect the fact that UnityVS is now a Microsoft product. It’s not a lot of work, but we won’t release until we’ve gotten those things done, and then we’ll publish the download link

  10. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    When we re-release the plugin we will make UnityVS itself free for download on the VS Professional and higher SKUs. We’re still discussing what the best path is for this technology as we integrate it more deeply into Visual Studio. Once we have a clear decision, we’ll publish it.

  11. schmosef says:

    This is great news. After 5 minutes in Monodevelop, I gladly purchased UnityVS. I can't imagine Unity development without it.

  12. NVentimiglia says:

    Next, get Azure Mobile services working with Unity3d.

  13. PawelM says:

    Great plugin, great news.

    Despite the fact it suffered from some workflow issues, I saved many hours on code debugging.

    I can't wait for upcoming updates of UnityVS!

  14. MobinYaqoob says:

    UnityVS is now free available ?? for integrate with UNITY ??

  15. XNA says:

    We don't want Unity, we want XNA!

  16. Den says:

    What about using C# for Xbox One (without Unity of course – we need generic support)? Are you getting any close? Sony already allows this for PS4 via MonoGame. Please match it with MonoGame funding and proper support.

  17. Ingo says:

    This is so great. Will you support also older VS versions? I am currently using VS 2010 Ultimate?

  18. Kirill says:

    >>Next, get Azure Mobile services working with Unity3d.

    Dear N,

    Our friends at BitRave developed Unity 3d plugin for Mobile Services:

    Would love to hear your thoughts on it.

  19. Leo says:

    Nice… time to get some work done 🙂

  20. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    UnityVS today supports VS 2010 and later. When we re-release the plugin (soon), we intend to keep supporting 2010 and higher.

  21. Andrew W says:

    Brilliant news – thank you

  22. Leo Tot says:

    great 🙂 time to get some work done

  23. yannis says:

    Its one of the best news of This year… I cant bear monodevelop anymore !! Debugging on visual studio is a bless.

  24. Leon Pryor says:

    This is great news – unfortunately for me I purchased a license yesterday….so I'm a bit annoyed.

    But I'm happy to see better integration.

  25. tsw says:

    being a licensee of UnityVS I feel this can hopefully bring about a great integration…      live long and prosper!  lol

  26. Delie says:

    Fantastic 🙂

  27. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    This question came up on our UserVoice site as well and we answered it there, too: As was tweeted by @joebelfiore during BUILD2014, support for C# development will be coming to Xbox. Please stay tuned for more information.…/4233646-allow-net-games-on-xbox-one

  28. Richard Fine says:

    This is cool! UnityVS is already a pretty awesome tool but closer access to the VS team and the ability to integrate more deeply can only be a good thing.

    Thinking beyond Unity, though – this means Microsoft now owns a debug interface to the Mono runtime (albeit a rather old and hacked-up one). Any thoughts on whether this might eventually turn into a more general 'debug Mono-runtime apps with VS' feature?

  29. Takuan Daikon says:

    @John Montgomery [MSFT]

    I have always had deep respect for the UnityVS team, and have always thought UnityVS had tremendous potential despite my personal frustrations with it. I am actually quite excited by the prospect of better integration with Visual Studio, and can't wait to see how UnityVS evolves with this change.

    After the current sprint is over and I have a little more breathing room, I'll try to compile a summary of my experiences with UnityVS that I'll pass along.

  30. Ali says:

    This is awesome!

  31. Aficionado says:

    Great news!!!! Visual studio will be more interesting now with this feature for gamedev

  32. Kevin says:

    Great news. Now buy Xamarin, please!

  33. Abdulrehman Altaf says:


  34. Мимо проходил says:

    Ну ахуеть теперь жеш

  35. sanan says:

    awesome ,good work

  36. Ali Asad says:

    glad to hear it support all unity languages for debugging.

  37. Ben says:

    Really disappointed at all the emphasis that is being put onto Unity at the moment. I tried Unity when XNA was deprecated, and just couldn't get on with the fact that rather than coding up my game and being fully in control, I was effectively just dragging and dropping objects into a game world, then tweaking scripts to make them do stuff. Needless to say, I dropped Unity after two weeks of struggling upon discovering Monogame.

    There are loads of ex-XNA developers out there, and a lot of them want a programming framework to develop games with, rather than a game engine. Just look at the Visual Studio user voice site – XNA 5 is currently the top request by a considerable margin (…/top)

    I'm not saying "drop Unity for Monogame" by any stretch of the imagination – but give us developers who want to program games some certainty about the future, please!

  38. Peter Ds says:

    Well done Microsoft!

  39. ThomasDjafari says:

    Very good news! If only MonoDevelop could disappear forever now…

  40. vernam7 says:

    great! i hope we can see an even better integration the amazing visual studio with unity and maybe finally a syntax support!

  41. Matthew Montgomery says:

    This is amazing news!

  42. Eric says:

    Can you guys also buy Unity and update its engine to use the real .NET?  🙂

  43. Mike says:

    I know you guys probably don't know an exact date when you will re-release this plugin, but are we talking days, weeks, or months? I am trying to get my team away from Monodevelop since I use UnityVS at home. We were just about to buy UnityVS when the download link vanished.

  44. Hemanthkumar says:

    Looking forward to the download link . Cheers 🙂

  45. KungFuCoder says:

    I love this tool, It is a welcome event that Microsoft plucked this gem to make it part of its offering 🙂

  46. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    If I were you, I'd be thinking weeks, not months. Like you, we all want it back as quickly as we can make it happen.


  47. Lee Stutzman says:

    Neat! Now if MS could just buy us all a Unity license as well 😉

  48. Helder Novais says:

    Very nice (even though I'm not an Unity developer).

  49. teevus says:

    Too bad I just forked out $99 for the plugin a week before this announcement… I'm gathering MS will make this available for free to licensed Visual Studio users

  50. Truerror says:

    Does this mean that the plugin will be available to VS Express too? It would be nice if that is the case.

  51. JuegoStudio-Game Development Company says:

    Thanks for valuable post……….

  52. Conjured Graphics says:

    Fantastic news, thanks for doing this.

    "Microsoft will also make the existing UnityVS plugin available for free on our download site shortly."

    When is shortly? I'm eager to get started with this, and not sure which download site you're referring to.

  53. JEuler says:

    Oh, i've recently bought it. =( But good news, of course.

  54. Damir says:

    Great news! Thanks!

  55. GarethPW says:

    This is fantastic news! However, I'm currently on the 14-day trial of UnityVS, due to expire tomorrow 🙁 I was all geared up to purchase a licence. Is there anything I can do to keep using it before the official release?

  56. amhnews says:

    greats…sounds good …

  57. Drew Markovitch says:

    Define "shortly" =)

  58. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:

    @GarethPW, @Drew Markovitch

    The short answer is a couple of weeks. We're working as fast as we can and checking off a last few things release as a Microsoft product.


  59. Jason says:

    When can I start downloading it??

  60. Happy person says:


  61. cmturner2 says:

    Great stuff, I am always happy to see Microsoft embrace gaming, as it's certainly been key to success for many, Microsoft included – and this integration will definitely give me more reasons to have Visual Studio open instead of alternatives!

    However, I disagree with the comments about either Microsoft acquiring Unity, or pushing for .NET in Unity.

    1) Cross platform is the reason Unity is popular over other alternative – lose this, and you lose a fair amount of developers. And as much as I love Microsoft's various platforms, I also love Apple, the various free-range Linux distributions, and even more "fringe" OSes – there's enough love in my heart for them all.

    2) No one willingly wants to maintain multiple code trees, it's usually forced either due to financial survival needs or legacy support requirements – so as nice as native .NET is, it would be another reason to abandon Unity for an alternate cross platform solution.

  62. James G says:

    Is there an ETA on when UnityVS will be available for download? The word "Shortly" was used but that was nearly two weeks ago.

  63. Wes says:

    Smart. Very interesting, strategic acquisition, you guys.  There's more to this than simply buying up a VS plugin. And I love this news.  Unity is great, and I feel naked without Visual Studio.

  64. PGJ says:

    Great! I really love UnityVS and I hope you'll make it so it can be run on the free versions of Visual Studio.

    I hope you buy Xamarin next! That would be really awesome! Their products are far too expensive and they really need a big company to back them up and shape up the product…

  65. Dan says:

    And I just bought a license.  *shakes head*

  66. chall3ng3r says:

    any update when it will be available for download?

    // chall3ng3r //

  67. Wessam Fathi says:

    3 weeks till now, "shortly" is fading away!

  68. anthony Thomas says:

    can i buy the current version anywhere if I don't want to wait until the free version is available?

  69. 53x3 says:

    Come on already! It's been almost a month! How is that "Shortly"?! You could have saved this post till you're all set. I now visit this page everyday hoping to see the download link.

  70. Paul says:


  71. michael says:

    Eagerly awaiting this, please make this available asap.

  72. Hrcak says:


    This is great news indeed !

    I'm as well curious will this be anyhow ever available to express edition users ?

    If so, it will be a blast !

  73. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:

    @Paul,  53×3, Wessam Fathi, chall3ng3r, James G, Jason

    A couple of weeks ago, I said UnityVS would be back in a couple of weeks. We’re now just a few days away. I expect early next week we should have bits available. Sorry this is taking longer than I anticipated.


  74. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:


    At present, no. We're going to make the existing UnityVS plugin (which works in VS Pro, Premium, and Ultimate) and make available for free, but right now we're not making it available in an Express product.


  75. vexe says:

    @John Montgomery: Thanks for the reply.

    So the first thing you're gonna do is 'just' make UnityVS free? I'm just wondering. Are you not going to make any initial improvements? Like for example, there's a 'HUGE' delay when inspecting the value of a SerializedProperty in UnityVS (talking minutes here… VS's gui would hang etc). I talked to UnityVS's support about this and they confirmed it. But they didn't do anything about it! The replication is very easy, write some code that involves a SerializedProperty, debug, hover the mouse over the SP value, and try to collapse the value foldout.

    Test code:

    public class TestBehaviour : MonoBehaviour


       public string myString;



    public class TestEditor : Editor


       public override void OnInspectorGUI()


          var spMyString = serializedObject.FindProperty("myString");



    That's just one thing… Not to mention the random skipping of code when 'stepping into', not hitting debug points, crashing Unity, the Unity solution explorer is poor, etc etc.

    UnityVS was by no mean perfect, very poor integration caused us a lot of headaches. This is why we're all very happy that MS took over finally.

    We would all love to see those points being improved on.


    – Vexe

  76. Jb Evain says:


    Jb from the UnityVS team here, thanks for your feedback.

    On inspecting a SerializedProperty: we did take this bug report into account and the fix will be in what we ship soon.

    Most of the issues you describe – stepping missing some lines, breakpoints not being hit, crashes – are usually bugs from Unity's scripting engine and C# compiler. If you can provide me with a way to reproduce them, I'll make sure to verify the bug and pass it along if we can't workaround it.

    If you have any other issue or suggestion about how to improve the workflow with UnityVS, please get in touch: my email is

  77. Graph says:

    quick query here: will you also make the unityVS2010 version available in the initial (re)release at the beginning of next week; and can we get a probability measure that timeframe?

    since i'm on vista on this machine i have to bang my head against  the ux nightmare that is monoDevelop and while it gets the job done.. i'd much rather be using VS as i do for everything else.

    and may i just mention how awesome i think it is that you are making unityVS available for free.

  78. vexe says:

    @Jb Evains,

    Thanks for the reply. I wish I could reproduce those but I can't, since they're pretty random.

  79. VS2013 Developer says:

    When will UnityVS be available for download again?  Or did Microsoft buy this product so they could make sure it never sees the light of day ever again?

  80. Stu says:

    This is great news! I was just about to buy it.  Any ideas when it will be available for download?

  81. chall3ng3r says:

    @John, thanks for the update. Looking forward to the download in few days 🙂

    // chall3ng3r //

  82. James says:

    Hopefully we get an update on what is happening soon. Its been almost a month since the acquisition.

  83. John Montgomery [MSFT] says:

    The VS Tools for Unity (formerly UnityVS) are now live.…/visual-studio-tools-for-unity-1-9.aspx


  84. James says:

    Nice to see it finally released! Great work!

    However, I've run into a small (quite large for my project) problem.

    The tool set seems to mess up on the generic setup I have on my ObjectPool class which sorts objects by child/sub-class type.

    The class declaration is:  public class ObjectPool<T> where T : class

    The method I use for pulling instances out of the pool is:

    public R GetInstance<R>(Func<R> newInstanceCallback) where R : T{

    Stack<T> stack = null;

    Type t = typeof(R);

    if(instances.TryGetValue(t, out stack))


    if(stack.Count > 0){

    return stack.Pop() as R;



    return newInstanceCallback();


    Where R is the sub-class type of T.

    This works fine in MonoDevelop and Unity itself, but in VS2013 I get:

    "The type parameter 'R' cannot be used with the 'as' operator because it does not have a class type constraint nor a 'class' constraint".

    On this line of the method: "return stack.Pop() as R;"

  85. laapsaap says:

    The update makes UnityVS unusable.  Its not showing anything when I try to open something.

  86. Jb Evain says:


    That's one specific issue! 🙂 The place to report bugs is but as this one is easy I'll just go ahead and answer it right here:

    It seems Visual Studio's C# compiler is more strict than Unity's. You can make both agree by completing the constraint for R as such:

    where R : class, T

  87. Jb Evain says:

    @laapsaap well that is strange. Can you make sure to apply the procedure for the migration from 1.8 to 1.9 as described in…/troubleshooting ? If you're still having the issue after that, my email is and I'll help you investigate.

  88. chall3ng3r says:

    Awesome job guys!

    Going to download tonight. I hope UnityVS keeps this add-on updated.

    // chall3ng3r //

  89. macaruchi says:

    Great news! I hope the next piece of news is "we bought Xamarin"

  90. Masuk Sarker says:

    really awesome 🙂

  91. Maurice Boehm says:

    This is great, but I also have a bug with Unity VS that I really need help with. I very often get a generic error that doesn't give the actual line and script file location of the error. I'm just starting a new project which is tiny and could send it over to be reproduced. Could anyone help? Not sure who to contact now with issues. My email is:

    This is the way the error reads: Error 2 ArgumentOutOfRangeException: Argument is out of range.

    Parameter name: index /Users/builduser/buildslave/mono-runtime-and-classlibs/build/mcs/class/corlib/System.Collections.Generic/List.cs 633 1 Solution 'UnityVS.Development Project' ‎(1 project)

    It always says List.cs instead the script file in which the error actually occurred.



  92. Gaby says:

    I didnt have any problems with Mono, but I guess it's a nice plugin, I have to give it a try some time.

  93. Michael says:

    Much appreciated.  Won't say it's perfect, but it's rare indeed that I open MonoDevelop anymore.

  94. Bien.. says:

    waoooooooooo, bien.

  95. Great news guys says:

    Great news guys! I started learning Unity and I was really disappointed that I couldn't debug with VS.

  96. Anonymous says:


    Do you know how much it costs?

    I refer to UnityVS Professional .


Skip to main content