Earlier today Improbable released a blog post stating that due to ToS/EULA changes, it was no longer compatible with Unity and was being shut down. A number of developers responded to this action, including game developers that used SpatialOS and whose games future was now in question, as well as developers of other game engines and technologies. The only person without a comment was Unity itself, until now.
Unity have released this response to the entire issue, telling a much different version of the story.
Some key excerpts from the statement:
More than a year ago, we told Improbable in person that they were in violation of our Terms of Service or EULA. Six months ago, we informed Improbable about the violation in writing. Recent actions did not come as a surprise to Improbable; in fact, they’ve known about this for many months.
Two weeks ago we took the action of turning off Improbable’s Unity Editor license keys. This is a unique case — and not a situation we take lightly — but Improbable left us no choice. This was the only course of action to protect the integrity and value of our technology and Unity developers.
We believe that even though Improbable is violating our EULA, game developers should never pay the price for that. We have been clear with Improbable that games currently in production and/or games that are live are unaffected, and we would have expected them to be honest with their community about this information. Unfortunately, this information is misrepresented in Improbable’s blog.
The timeline in the dispute seems to match almost perfectly with Unity’s move into the networking space, as publically announced here. Fortunately for developers who are currently using SpatialOS technology in their games, Unity insist that they should not be hugely impacted:
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. Despite this fact, we can assure developers that they will be able to continue development while we resolve our dispute. We are committed to ensuring that developers will receive support for any outstanding questions or issues as we work through this problem.
Finally some justification for why they updated their EULA/ToS:
From time to time, Unity will update its Terms of Service (TOS) to reflect how we run our business and address questions from our partners and customers. In December, we made clarifications to our Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions because we received requests for clarification as the industry is evolving quickly.
At the core, the Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions terms are still the same as before. We received feedback that the language was ambiguous, so we updated our Terms of Service to be clear on our distribution and streaming restrictions. We will continue to listen to the community and clarify as we can.
Their summary of what the changes mean to game developers:
From a technical standpoint, this is what our clarification on our TOS means: if you want to run your Unity-based game-server, on your own servers, or a cloud provider that provides you instances to run your own server for your game, you are covered by our EULA. We will support you as long as the server is running on a Unity supported platform.
As an example, if you have made a Windows or Linux player build of your game to be an authoritative game server and run that on a server in-house, you can continue to develop, publish or operate your game as usual. If you rent a server or pay for a cloud instance to run the game, you can continue to develop, publish or operate your game as usual.
Finally, and most important/impactfully, what it means for “platforms”:
However, if a third party service wants to run the Unity Runtime in the cloud with their additional SDK, we consider this a platform. In these cases, we require the service to be an approved Unity platform partner. These partnerships enable broad and robust platform support so developers can be successful. We enter into these partnerships all the time. This kind of partnership is what we have continuously worked towards with Improbable.
… so, there you have it. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. Watch the video below for a bit more of my opinion/take on the matter and to share your own.