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Unity’s block of SpatialOS

19 March 2019

Due to a change in Unity’s terms of service (clause 2.4), all existing SpatialOS games using Unity, including production games and in development games of all developers, are now in breach of Unity’s license terms. In this blog post, we would like to explain our understanding of this serious development, and how we are helping to resolve it.

At Improbable, we believe online games are incredibly important and with our SpatialOS platform our aim is to enable game developers of all sizes to build, run and dramatically innovate across all types of multiplayer games.

Today we must regretfully inform our community of the following developments.

  • Unity’s block of SpatialOS: 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. This was previously freely possible in their terms, as with other major engines.
  • What this means: Unity has clarified to us that this change effectively makes it a breach of terms to operate or create SpatialOS games using Unity, including in development and production games.
  • Ongoing negotiation: Worryingly, this change occurred during an open commercial negotiation with the company to find a way to do more together.
  • Revoked Unity license: In addition, Unity has revoked our ability to continue working with the engine for breaching the newly changed terms of service in an unspecified way.  This will affect our ability to support games.
  • Continuing service for all other engines: Users of all other engines remain completely unaffected and we are working with other engine providers to see if they can help support engine transitions for customers hit by this change.

From the start, we’ve worked with great partners who share our vision, launching initiatives like our partnership with Google Cloud. Integrating our tech with amazing companies like Epic Games and Crytek. We’ve secured considerable capital from great investors who are excited by that vision.

But most of all we totally rely on the support and trust of our developer community. From innovative independent studios like Bossa and Midwinter who have worked with SpatialOS for years, to large companies like NetEase and their in-development game Nostos.

The growing community of early pioneers tinkering with Improbable, spending their money, time and energy on building something new, are so important to us; we cannot develop SpatialOS without the risks they take to innovate with us. We owe them everything. Enabling companies like us only earn the right to work with developers by putting your success before everything else.

Overnight, this is an action by Unity that has immediately done harm to projects across the industry, including those of extremely vulnerable or small scale developers and damaged major projects in development over many years. Games that have been funded based on the promise of SpatialOS to deliver next-generation multiplayer are now endangered due to their choice of game engine. Live games are now in legal limbo.

All customers who entered into a relationship with us and Unity previously did so on the good faith understanding that the terms they signed up to, sometimes years ago, would allow them to be successful and not carry additional charges.

We have always had huge respect for and been incredibly inspired by Unity and its mission. Unity was part of why we started Improbable in a barn in north London just a few years ago. We have always known them to put developers, innovation and integrity first and have been in loose partnership talks for some time with a view to doing more together.

For now, we believe this unfortunate and counterproductive action to be an error in judgement or coordination failure within Unity. We are urgently working to clarify this situation and believe that a swift resolution may be possible.

Steps we’re taking: we also want to reaffirm our support for our incredible developer community and commit to the following:

  • Good faith: We will do everything in our power to solve this issue in good faith with Unity. The ideal outcome is a reversion of this terms change.
  • Development support: We will do everything in our power to help developers using SpatialOS with Unity to finish, release and operate their games.
  • Emergency fund:  We are setting up an emergency fund for partners who this action will leave in financial difficulty. Please contact us to discuss further.
  • Moving engine: Engine moves are always the last resort, but we and partner companies are working to resource a team to assist if you need to take this step. Please contact us, as this resource may be limited.
  • Reaching out:  Please contact us to see if we can help you or if you are concerned, we are also contacting many of you proactively.
  • Unity GDK will be fully MIT licensed. As a first step, we will be fully open-sourcing under the MIT license the code of our SpatialOS Game Development Kit for Unity, in case this assists individual customers. We will continue to support the GDKs to the best of our ability.

Thank you all for your patience and support.

The Improbable Team.