War of words heats up between Unity and Improbable

Demo FPS game built using SpatialOS

Improbable said: "The game engine provider Unity recently changed (Dec 5) and then clarified directly to us (9 Jan) their terms of service to specifically disallow services like Improbable's to function with their engine".

Epic Games' partnership with Improbable, and the integration of Improbable's cloud-based development platform SpatialOS, is based on shared values, and a shared belief in how companies should work together to support mutual customers in a straightforward, no-surprises way.

"You may not directly or indirectly distribute the Unity Software, including the runtime portion of the Unity Software (the "Unity Runtime"), or your Project Content (if it incorporates the Unity Runtime) by means of streaming or broadcasting so that any portion of the Unity Software is primarily executed on or simulated by the cloud or a remote server and transmitted over the Internet or other network-to-end user devices without a separate license or authorization from Unity".

The $25m fund was announced in a letter co-authored by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable CEO Herman Narula, and is presumably targeted towards studios and projects that use both the Unity engine and SpatialOS technology. "Live games are now in legal limbo".

Fingers crossed that it doesn't come to that, as I doubt many smaller MMO studios could afford a change in networking tech or engine late in development. Outside of using the cloud-gaming platform, this could be seen as a beacon to studios and developers trying to figure out the best home for their projects in general, especially with funding being dangled out in front of them. SpatialOS plugs into different game engines - such as Unity - and allows third-party game developers to create massive online worlds.

After a bit of controversy between Improbable and Unity, Epic Games has swept in to court devs toward Unreal Engine.

Sensing an opportunity, Epic Games, whose Unreal Engine is a direct competitor to Unity, then jumped into the fray.

The Register asked Unity to comment.

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What just happened? If you're a PC gamer, you've probably heard of Unity - it's one of the most popular game engines out there, right next to the likes of Unreal.

Unity has since responded, saying Improbable's version of events is incorrect. 'We terminated our relationship with Improbable due to a failed negotiation with them after they violated our Terms of Service.

Currently, it remains unknown precisely how many games - either in operation or in development - are affected by the change to Unity's Terms of Service, but the developer community has been gripped by widespread trepidation, if not panic.

Word of the loss of SpatialOS spread quickly, with several online games immediately being affected the news. Two weeks ago we took the action of turning off Improbable's Unity Editor license keys.

Ante said Unity informed Improbable in writing six months ago that they were in violation of the company's Terms of Service.

"We are genuinely disappointed that we have been unable to come to an agreement with Improbable, and their improper use continued until we took the action we did". 'This is a unique case - and not a situation we take lightly - but Improbable left us no choice, ' Ante claims.

The change is a blow, but won't impact all games running on SpatialOS.

We now hope Unity will seek to engage with us to solve this issue.

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