With the Improbable/Unity dispute lingering on, MMOs like Worlds Adrift are literally adrift


Last week, Improbable and Unity stunned the gaming industry with their ugly spat over SpatialOS integration and licensing, as both companies issued statements about their agreements that clarified and contradicted their relationship and even Epic Games got in on the spectacle, teaming up with Improbable to fund affected developers and coax them away from Unity.

A week later, those affected developers are still very much affected. Though Unity told MMO devs that used SpatialOS alongside Unity would be grandfathered into that use, Unity hasn’t as yet unbarred Improbable itself from developing the SpatialOS/Unity integration, which means those devs and their MMOs are still very much left in the lurch. (And that’s without counting the Unity-only teams that are now left wondering whether their projects could be in jeopardy over similar fallout and vague terms in the future.)

One such company is Bossa Studios, which is currently running MMO Worlds Adrift in early access. The game, though small in playerbase right now, is one of the more prominent using both SpatialOS and Unity. Bossa Co-Founder Henrique Olifiers has a new dev blog up today admitting that the future of the game – and whether it will continue to be a SpatialOS title – is still uncertain.

“This storm is still there, though, lingering on the horizon. The dispute between those two companies is not yet resolved. Whatever the outcome, it will affect different studios and games in unique ways, thus it’s wise for us to explain our particular situation and plans going ahead,” he writes.

“Worlds Adrift is the only live game using SpatialOS at this time, with the exception of our friends’ game, Lazarus, which is in closed Beta. Because Worlds is the very first game to use the tech, as it happens, it’s making use of a previous version of SpatialOS (v10) that no one else uses. This version is no longer in active development, and it’s stable. While it’s unlikely we can remain on SpatialOS10 forever, we can do so for now. Thus we are able to brave the storm reefed and consider all the options available without rushing. We have quite the supply of pizza and a lot to fix and expand in the game, so, for now, we’ll do what we do best: continue making Worlds Adrift better.”

MMO readers will also likely be familiar with Fractured, a full-fledged SpatialOS MMORPG that was Kickstarted last year; its dev team pulled the game’s pre-alpha servers down last week amidst the crisis and haven’t made a public statement since (the forums are currently down as well as we type this).

Update, Weds afternoon
Unity posted a new blog today that didn’t entirely back down from its position (it even claims it “refuted” “untrue statements”) but does say it’s once again updated its terms of service, clearly allowing “that developers can use any third party service that integrate into Unity” and noting that “some of these services will be supported, others will not.” While the company maintains that Improbable was in violation of its earlier TOS and claims Improbable was “misprepresenting [its] affiliation with [Unity],” it does clarify that Improbable is no longer in breach and its license has been reinstated. Don’t get too excited, though. “We do not consider them a partner, and cannot vouch for how their service works with Unity as we have no insight into their technology or how they run their business,” the company warns. In other words, while Improbable is now free to assist developers using its integration, it’s not entirely clear how that non-relationship will play out in the future. Unity also held an AMA this afternoon. (With thanks to Mark Jacobs for pointing out this blog post to us!)
Update, Weds afternoon
Improbable now says it will is “once again fully able to support” developers using SpatialOS and Unity.

Update, Thursday
In a new blog post today, Improbable again confirms it will continue to update the SpatialOS integration for Unity and that in fact it will be “one of [its] priorities.”

“This means that any developers considering new projects can continue to plan around our ongoing development of the GDK for Unity. We will ensure that SpatialOS continues to work with Unity. […] Over the last week, the major engine providers have publicly affirmed your right as a developer to host your game wherever you want. We think this is a monumental step forward for the future of online games.”


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