To start, we just wanted to apologize to the incredible community of game developers we’ve seen engaging in discourse today. We apologize that this event we instigated has created so much uncertainty, confusion and pain for so many developers who really do not deserve this.
We hope some of the efforts of our team and partners have helped a little, and we have plans on how we can do even more, which we hope to announce soon. Once again, please reach out if we can help in any way.
But honestly, we don’t believe that today was about Unity or for that matter Improbable. Ultimately a commercial dispute between two companies, in which both sides have certainly made errors, should never threaten access to essential technology used by a large number of developers. A world where this happens frequently will be a world with very little innovation in gaming.
We think this incident shows that, as an industry, we might need to consider making some changes which hugely increase the rate of innovation and the collective success we could all experience.
Developers are the most vulnerable yet most critical constituents of the machine that generates all the value in the incredible world of games. As we move towards more online, more complex, more rapidly-evolving worlds, we will become increasingly interdependent on a plethora of platforms that will end up having enormous power over developers. The games we want to make are too hard and too expensive to make alone. We are already seeing this happen.
In the near future, as more and more people transition from entertainment to earning a real income playing games, a platform going down or changing its Terms of Service could have devastating repercussions on a scale much worse than today.
Perhaps it's time to create a code of conduct, or basic set of principles that the enablers within the ecosystem need to operate by, as against developers and clearly also players. The law is a useful tool in disputes, but as today has shown, in game development reputation and trust can be equally powerful. As a first step, we may be able to self-police, or at least experiment with informal principles to help guide this space.
Some questions we were struck by today:
- How broad a term or catch-all in an agreement is too broad?
- Who could mediate in disputes like this?
- Who stands up for developers who do not have collective power, like small independents, when it comes to negotiating a license fee or a price?
- Does the control we have over the tools we create necessarily need to lessen as we scale?
- How do we protect and reward the early adopters, whose risk and sweat often builds the value of platforms that become ever-present?
- What kind of open source commons is optimal for us as an industry?
We have some thoughts on how to instigate useful dialogue on this but, honestly, we are new to this and hope the more experienced folks out there will reach out and help us in this discourse.
As a platform company, we believe humility and introspection are critical responses to the suffering of your community, however it comes about. We invite every company involved in today's discourse to do a little of that.
We also invite Unity to participate in this broader thinking with us, whatever the outcome of our misunderstanding. You are an incredibly important company and one bad day doesn’t take away from all you’ve given us. Let's fix this for our community, you know our number.
The Improbable Team.
PS: Ironically on closer examination our *own* terms of service have just as many weaknesses and potential future problems as those of other parties that have received criticism today. Something we have decided to rectify.