Yesterday, news of the tiff between SpatialOS company Improbable and Unity spread like wildfire over the internet, with multiple involved parties adding kindling throughout the day and into the wee hours of this morning.
Improbable began by warning MMO companies that used both SpatialOS and Unity that Unity had cut off SpatialOS access in the middle of business negotiations, potentially putting their development in jeopardy; Improbable even likened the move to “ransom demands.” Unity, however, accused Improbable of dishonesty, claiming that it had ended those negotiations and warned Improbable that it was in breach of its TOS. Unity also promised game developers that their projects were not at risk, though it did not clarify those remarks. It did continue updating its TOS as of yesterday amid criticism from non-SpatialOS Unity devs who said the new and ambiguous terms threatened their projects as well. Then, just before midnight, Unreal company Epic Games and Improbable announced a $25M fund to rescue Unity games from limbo.
This afternoon, Improbable has released another blog post in response to Unity’s, suggesting that Unity’s piece was confusing and in fact contained misstatements of fact.
For example, while Unity maintained that it informed Improbable it was in breach of its TOS, Improbable says it had received “verbal confirmation from Unity at the most senior level that [it was] not in breach of their terms of service,” such that Improbable “regarded this as the end of the matter and proceeded with commercial discussions,” having no “reason to believe there was any issue for developers.”
Improbable also points out that at no point did Unity ever tell Unity users that they might be in breach for using Improbable, which you’d think it might do if it believed that. “We have never acted in bad faith or concealed anything concerning service breaches,” the SpatialOS company says.
It then outlines its reaction to what it characterizes as Unity’s “sweeping and ridiculous” TOS changes in December and claims that Unity did not in fact inform it of the license revocation until January 9th (a day before Improbable went public to inform developers itself), which put those games at risk. “During this process, Unity did not communicate with us in any formal way,” says the company.
Improbable does say that while Unity is promising that legacy devs can run SpatialOS games, that doesn’t include Improbable itself, meaning that Improbable cannot legally support its service on those games. In other words, Unity can’t really make the promise it’s making under the circumstances, which is exactly what some game studios are upset about.
Ultimately, Improbable is asking Unity for “clarity.”
“We do not require any direct technical cooperation with an engine provider to offer our services – Crytek, Epic and all other providers clearly allow interoperability without commercial arrangement with cloud platforms. We have no formal technical arrangements there and have not required any with Unity for years. Our preference would be that Unity simply adopts industry standard practice and allows platforms to host the engine as was the case before the change in Terms of Service. Failing that, Unity must grant Improbable sufficient legal basis to protect its existing customers, or be honest with the community about the situation. We now hope Unity will seek to engage with us to solve this issue.”