unity3d Singleton Pattern utilizing Unitys Entity-Component system


The core idea is to use GameObjects to represent singletons, which has multiple advantages:

  • Keeps complexity to a minimum but supports concepts like dependency injection
  • Singletons have a normal Unity lifecycle as part of the Entity-Component system
  • Singletons can be lazy loaded and cached locally where regulary needed (e.g. in update loops)
  • No static fields needed
  • No need to modify existing MonoBehaviours / Components to use them as Singletons
  • Easy to reset (just destroy the Singletons GameObject), will be lazy loaded again on next usage
  • Easy to inject mocks (just initialize it with the mock before using it)
  • Inspection and configuration using normal Unity editor and can happen already on editor time ( Screenshot of a Singleton accessible in the Unity editor )

Test.cs (which uses the example singleton):

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.Assertions;

public class Test : MonoBehaviour {
    void Start() {
        ExampleSingleton singleton = ExampleSingleton.instance;
        Assert.IsNotNull(singleton); // automatic initialization on first usage
        Assert.AreEqual("abc", singleton.myVar1);
        singleton.myVar1 = "123";
        // multiple calls to instance() return the same object:
        Assert.AreEqual(singleton, ExampleSingleton.instance); 
        Assert.AreEqual("123", ExampleSingleton.instance.myVar1);

ExampleSingleton.cs (which contains an example and the actual Singleton class):

using UnityEngine;
using UnityEngine.Assertions;

public class ExampleSingleton : MonoBehaviour {
    public static ExampleSingleton instance { get { return Singleton.get<ExampleSingleton>(); } }
    public string myVar1 = "abc";
    public void Start() { Assert.AreEqual(this, instance, "Singleton more than once in scene"); } 

/// <summary> Helper that turns any MonBehaviour or other Component into a Singleton </summary>
public static class Singleton {
    public static T get<T>() where T : Component {
        return GetOrAddGo("Singletons").GetOrAddChild("" + typeof(T)).GetOrAddComponent<T>();
    private static GameObject GetOrAddGo(string goName) {
        var go = GameObject.Find(goName);
        if (go == null) { return new GameObject(goName); }
        return go;

public static class GameObjectExtensionMethods { 
    public static GameObject GetOrAddChild(this GameObject parentGo, string childName) {
        var childGo = parentGo.transform.FindChild(childName);
        if (childGo != null) { return childGo.gameObject; } // child found, return it
        var newChild = new GameObject(childName);        // no child found, create it
        newChild.transform.SetParent(parentGo.transform, false); // add it to parent
        return newChild;

    public static T GetOrAddComponent<T>(this GameObject parentGo) where T : Component {
        var comp = parentGo.GetComponent<T>();
        if (comp == null) { return parentGo.AddComponent<T>(); }
        return comp;

The two extension methods for GameObject are helpful in other situations as well, if you don't need them move them inside the Singleton class and make them private.