[Update] Unity Changes Terms of Service to Block SpatialOS Tool from Improbable

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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.

Unity's Terms of Service isn't exactly the most lucid reading material, but the section in question titled Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions seems to lay out a fairly clear rebuke of what Improbable does. But Improbable that a recent change in Unity's terms of service means the SpatialOS is essentially blocked from working with the Unity Engine. According to Improbable, the cloud will not run or simulate a Unity game, even if on a remote server, without special permission or licensing from Unity.

Improbable writes, "Overnight, this is an action by Unity that has immediately done harm to projects across the industry, including those of extremely vulnerable or small scale developers and damaged major projects in development over many years".

The change jeopardises the lineup of current and future games developed on Unity and Improbable's SpatialOS, which remains a nascent platform.

Unity's post from yesterday (published in response to Improbable's original notice) outlines why the company says SpatialOS devs don't need to be concerned with the falling out between the two companies, but, as Improbable argues now, the actual text of the TOS offers none of those same assurances. Two weeks ago we took the action of turning off Improbable's Unity Editor license keys. We have never communicated to any game developer that they should stop operating a game that runs using Improbable as a service. "Games that have been funded based on the promise of SpatialOS to deliver next-generation multiplayer are now endangered due to their choice of game engine". Worse, it has left some live and in-development games in legal limbo.

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Every cloud has a silver lining (bravo - ed.), and Epic Games has leapt into the fray with the formation of a $25 million fund, created in partnership with Improbable, which it claims will be provided 'to assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service incompatibilities that were introduced today [and] help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems' - primarily, of course Epic's own Unreal Engine, which is a direct competitor to Unity. SpatialOS is a platform often used for creating online multiplayer game worlds. "Unity won't let it happen". We will update this story as it develops. Whatever is happening in the background is outside of our control, our focus is ensuring the players are looked after and their memorable experiences in the game are protected.

Meanwhile, founder of Unreal Engine developer Epic Games Tim Sweeney, suggested in a tweet that Unity's new terms of service could potentially affect other multiplayer titles that don't use the SpatialOS platform, saying "You couldn't operate Fortnite, PUBG, or Rocket League under these terms".

Unity said that developers should not have been affected by the ongoing dispute.

In a blog post, the company informed customers that Unity changed its terms of service on December 5, and on Wednesday got in touch to explain that its terms of service "specifically disallow services like Improbable's to function with their engine". We have no formal technical arrangements there and have not required any with Unity for years.

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