Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Technology | By Lionel Gonzales

Epic and Improbable set up $25 million fund for Unity devs

Epic and Improbable set up $25 million fund for Unity devs

Unity also claim that Improbable were told about its violation of Unity's services over a year ago, which were not disclosed but involved "making unauthorized and improper use of Unity's technology and name in connection with the development, sale, and marketing of its own products".

Updated Improbable, the UK-based maker of the SpatialOS Game Development Kit (GDK) for the Unity game engine, on Thursday warned that all Unity-based titles integrating its GDK are now violating Unity's Terms of Service.

On Improbable's end, the company is developing open Unreal Engine integration, which, combined with Unreal's full C++ source code, will allow devs to "rapidly build and deploy both session-based and persistent online worlds across all platforms with the functionality of Unreal Engine and the increased possibilities of distributed computing and cloud services".

Unity developers using SpatialOS spent the day complaining about the move and wondering whether their projects in development would have to be completely reshaped.

"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". Unity then revoked Improbable's ability to continue working with their engine. "We are very concerned about this news, and hope it is some kind of mistake". If a game developer runs a Unity-based game server on their own servers or generic cloud instances (like GCP, AWS or Azure), they are covered by our EULA. Asked for comment, a Unity spokesperson referred us to their blog post.

Taking a dig at Unity's business practices, he later added, "Unreal developers are free to deploy games across any vendor's cloud services or host hardware themselves without any restrictions".

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For Improbable, though, the issue is far from academic: While its existing customers are, according to Unity, free to continue using the company's Unity-based platform, Improbable itself has had its licence keys to the Unity Editor deactivated - meaning it can no longer continue to develop on Unity, and its customers will receive no further updates.

"Something that this has really brought home to us is if you're a developer or independent studio, it's not great to be vulnerable to changes in licensing agreements, especially if you've already invested significant time or resources into developing a game", Griffiths explained. Six months ago, Unity once again notified Improbable of the violation, but seemingly no action was taken.

In a statement emailed to The Register, Unity CTO Joachim Ante disputed Improbable's version of events. The $25,000,000 will come from Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable, and money from the Epic Games Store.

"We believe we are at the beginning of an unprecedented age of inclusive online games that become parts of our everyday lives", Epic chief Tim Sweeney wrote.

After yesterday's back-and-forth between Unity and Improbable regarding the future development of SpatialOS games, Epic has stepped into the fray to announce a partnership with Improbable to "help developers transition to more open engines, services and ecosystems". It isn't known who will take up the offer, but Improbable and Unity's public fighting sure does put them in an awkward position. We'll see what happens from here, so stay tuned.

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