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Unity and Gambling

December 4, 2012 in Community by

Unity is a game engine. Right?

We’ve always worked on one big goal: making Unity the best game technology in the world and making it available to as many developers as possible.

That’s why we work so hard. That’s why we license expensive middleware and acquired an animation technology company. That’s why we made a free version of Unity available in 2009. And that’s why the ecosystem around Unity is so fantastically vibrant. I just returned from a short trip to our  Shanghai office, and while I was there I saw 8 (!) textbooks written about Unity.

But it turns out that Unity finds many other uses: in serious games and training applications, in car showrooms, in architecture and city planning, in art and VJ’ing, and beyond. And now also in gambling.

We learned that gambling companies were using Unity when they started calling us a while ago, and we realized that Unity was extremely valuable to them – both because of all the obvious stuff like our tools and features being awesome, but also because we have an obsession with learning about our customers and engaging with them to help them further their goals. So we hired a small-but-stellar team and started working with some of the biggest companies in the space.

To protect us and our users from the ensuing complexities, to ensure that we could be in touch with anyone building real money gambling applications on Unity, and honestly to be able to build a business on this, we defined a set of new products and introduced a provision in the Unity 4 EULA requiring real money gambling companies to work with us directly.

The intent was clear enough to us, but it managed to create enough confusion that I realized that the wording wasn’t clear.  Sorry about that, and here’s the clarified language we’re releasing in a moment:

You may not distribute or publish any Licensee Content in connection with any Gambling Activities without a separate license from Unity.

Gambling Activities means any gambling product or service offered in any market or application that is regulated by any local, state or national authority and requires a gambling license.

Yup, sorry about the legalese but this was not meant to be about virtual currencies (as it previously could be construed as), and of course will not impact 99.9% of the developers using Unity. It will help us engage with those (relatively few but large) companies who are building regulated real money gambling apps with Unity. Gambling is a very heavily regulated industry and the process of acquiring gambling license is generally long, arduous and expensive. In the long term this helps us build a sound business servicing these companies, which in turn makes it easier for us to invest heavily in Unity for all our customers and makes it easier to keep our game developer pricing low.

If you aren’t into gambling you can stop here. Otherwise, read on to learn more.

What we’re doing with the gambling industry

After receiving a lot of interest from key players in the gambling industry over the last four years, Unity began creating an engineering and support team to cater to this industry’s specific needs. We now have a team with nearly 25 years of industry experience to support gambling companies to implement Unity in gambling on all the various platforms (casino, web, mobile, etc.)  We have and will continue to invest in the gambling space to support it from all angles and meet our customers’ very complex and growing needs.

The premium gambling product license and support packages we offer provide professional gambling developers the technology and assistance they need to create a successful and technologically superior product in a very competitive market.  This highly regulated sector requires a high level of support, regardless of the size and experience of the company developing or producing the game.

Being a successful and trusted technology provider in the gambling industry will permit Unity to continue to invest in our product in a manner that contemplates the needs of this sector where we know we can provide a higher level of service and pretty advanced consultation.

If you have acquired a regulatory gambling license (or have a contract with a company that holds a license) and intend to use Unity for gambling, feel free to contact our Director of Business Development Ngozi Watts (ngozi@unity3d.com) for more details about the Unity gambling license.

In any case, good luck creating awesome things.

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Comments (27)

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Richard Fine
5 Dec 2012, 7:40 am

How does this affect anyone contracting for a gambling firm, or providing Asset Store packages to a gambling firm? As an independent contractor who may some day work with a gambling firm, is all this something I need to bear in mind?

5 Dec 2012, 9:03 am

@Richard: no, just the company with the gambling license needs to talk to Ngozi (though it’s probably smart if you get in touch too – he’s actually a very nice guy!)

5 Dec 2012, 11:34 am

Thanks for clearing that up David.
It all makes perfect sense now.

5 Dec 2012, 3:38 pm

This is a complication that had not even occurred to me. Thanks for being on top of so many areas, Unity!

Richard
6 Dec 2012, 3:05 am

Hi,

Very interesting news.

Just wondering if this means you are now working on full multi-monitor support?

As this is one of the big hurdles to the UK gambling industry adopting unity due to our use of dual & triple screen displays on most of our video game cabinets?

Thanks in advance.

Richard

Jason
6 Dec 2012, 5:45 am

Is it also possible to do CPM advertising with Unity 3D games ?

6 Dec 2012, 5:39 pm

@Jason: of course, you can always do that.

Jason
7 Dec 2012, 5:41 am

@David Helgason

Thanks David.
So I just have to integrate the CPM-Advertising code inside of my Unity game ?

7 Dec 2012, 10:41 am

@Richard: You raise a very common issue related to multi-monitor displays in gambling cabinets. We are indeed considering integrating multi-monitor support into Unity. Stay tuned.

Valkyria
7 Dec 2012, 11:31 pm

Just curious about what is actually considered “gambling”. If I were to make a poker game that does NOT involve real money or cash prizes, is it considered gambling or not?

TheOtherMonarch
8 Dec 2012, 7:46 am

I posted this in the forum and I am reposting here, not related to gambling but rather other parts of the EULA.

“Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions”
The wording is not clear as to how this affects authoritative servers, MMO games, and the gray space between the two!!! This limits new networking models.

I read this as MMO and company run authoritative servers are banned but not end user run authoritative servers. Please clarify broadcasting is overly broad and content is undefined.

8 Dec 2012, 7:53 am

I’m creating an online game that runs on a server, receives input instructions and send out video to the client in a web browser window (A bit like how Onlive works, but it is a custom created solution). I hope this doesn’t break licensing. I purchased a pro license for 4.x with the 3.x to use in the interim, I purchased the pro license under the assumption that the type of game I am developing would not break any licensing agreements with Unity. If they keep adding clauses like this eventually it’ll kill my project and I’ll have to move to an alternative engine. I would love someone from the admin team to assure me my game will not get asked to be taken down after all the time, effort and personal funding I’ve put into it.

Phil Ings
8 Dec 2012, 2:08 pm

The changes to the EULA in 4.x are a major concern. The clauses on streaming and embedded software are either very badly worded or are extremely invasive changes to the license. The use of the phrase “directly or indirectly” indicates that it is small developers as well as big companies who are being targeted by these changes in the license.

Moreover, I think it’s extremely disingenuous to be selling upgrades and licenses for 4.x without making these licensing changes known. While I don’t deny your legal right to do so, changing license terms without making it clear in advance is not the kind of behaviour I expect from UT. I think it’s fair to say that you’ve used up all the good will you ever earned from me with this kind of behaviour.

I hope you have a serious rethink on this because this – along with the upgrade fees (which were subsequently changed) and the changes to the license with regard to gambling – is giving me the impression of a company which has its hand permanently grasped on my wallet and is trying to get every last cent it can from me.

Graham Dunnett
8 Dec 2012, 3:09 pm

@VALKYRIA – almost certainly not something that would need a license from your government, and so you would not need a separate license from us.

@PHIL INGS – I am sorry that the EULA change has hurt you so much. By all means PM me on the forum, and I can chat to you about the embedded clause. I’ve got much less insight into the streaming one, however. You agree to the EULA when you first launch Unity and activate. I know EULAs are very rarely read through and understood. The idea is that people decide to not continue if the EULA is not to their liking. As I said in the forum, the changed EULA went unpublicised because we never anticipated the storm it created, since we did not think it would affect the large majority of our users. And, regarding taking your money… It’s more that we want you to be successful and make money and then want to give us money.

Graham Dunnett
8 Dec 2012, 3:17 pm

@CHAOSS – it might need a separate license, but I don’t know. It’s probably worth getting in touch with you account manager and having a discussion. I would be amazed if the change to the 4.x EULA kills your project. If the game is already live and was built with 3.x then we’d not ask for it to be taken down. If it’s still in development, and your team is using 4.x then just have an open conversation with us.

Valkyria
8 Dec 2012, 3:20 pm

@GRAHAM DUNNETT Thanks :)

Graham Dunnett
8 Dec 2012, 3:22 pm

@THEOTHERMONARCH – the streaming changes in the EULA are not intended to affect MMO developers. The client will still run a web player or standalone that has the Unity runtime in it, and be talking to your servers. The streaming and cloud changes really means the client is running in the cloud, so the end user does not have a Unity run time running on their machine and implementing the game.

8 Dec 2012, 5:39 pm

OK, This is the first time I’ll say this but I’m definitely not impressed in the slightest, I spent money I don’t have on a Unity Pro license that I now find I possibly cannot use, only to find that I might need another license… I cannot afford I struggle to pay my rent and bills.

I have thought of a small work around, the video could be streamed to a Unity dumb client. You should have the EULA re-written, the future is the cloud (as much as it pains me to say it) and by doing this you are closing out a lot of developers. I know of at least 1 team who are using Unity to create a simulation/virtual world that runs on a client and streams to a web page. one of those teams would be pissed if he got told to take it down, and I know they would go rogue and release it despite any take-down notices. I understand them in a way as well they put all their money and time into this project (much as I am doing with mine) and finding out they just shelled out for several Unity Pro licenses that they can’t use would wind up anyone.

Please for the love of god fix the EULA/licensing agreement so it doesn’t close out your potential developers… as soon as you start closing out developers you’ll find a small number of them will go rogue with the rest using an alternative engine. I think Unity is a great engine and I hope too see it have a bright future.

8 Dec 2012, 6:17 pm

@Chaoss: we absolutely don’t intend to stop people from doing cool stuff, and are happy to license projects that are already underway. See the forum thread for more details.

Richard Fine
9 Dec 2012, 5:42 am

@David: Thinking about it more, the stuff you’ve said in this post is a perfectly solid argument for why you should establish a “Unity for Gambling” vertical-specific license – but I still don’t understand why you also need to actively *prevent* the use of the regular Unity/Unity Pro license in that vertical.

From what you’ve said, anyone who’s subject to the clause wouldn’t realistically be able to use Unity/Unity Pro *anyway* (because they need all the extra stuff you’re offering with the Gambling license), so why change the EULA at all?

Similar question/argument about the other verticals. If the vertical-specific licenses are genuinely adding value for users in those verticals, why isn’t it enough to just advertise that such licenses are available?

Hervus
18 Dec 2012, 11:23 am

When Unity – the best game technology in the world – will be accessible / available to designer ?
I am so frustrated to have to write 30 lines… just to interact with one click !!!

20 Dec 2012, 11:42 am

I work for a gambling game company and we did purchase a couple of licenses with the intent of moving to Unity for all our games, BUT… By changing the license our company is no longer interested. We do not want to have to deal with IGT. And we certainly don’t want our clients to be stuck paying extra on each machine they sell because it’s not an IGT machine. What were you thinking ? If this helps your business I would be surprised very surprised. In the short term maybe take the money and run baby run….

21 Dec 2012, 3:32 am

@Marc: What a strange comment to make. You don’t have to deal with IGT unless you want to, and I can assure you that IGT (as well as most of the biggest ones) are paying their share.

If the company you work with doesn’t want to use Unity they don’t have to, but I would really suggest they contact Ngozi Watts (ngozi@unity3d.com) to at least have a casual conversation.

Our approach has already paid off, and the situation now is pretty much the same as before we changed the EULA: companies already had to sign up to get our source code to be able to build verifiable slot machines powered by Linux, and they have been very satisfied customers. Some of these companies are paying in the millions, but remember that they’re also multi-billion corporations with hundreds or thousands of developers, so there’s nothing unusual about that.

jon
2 Jan 2013, 1:32 pm

so is that the real reason unity was ported to linux?

Dulan
25 Jan 2013, 9:31 am

I believe Unity made a wrong turn here (as usual).

1. I am one of the few who bought the indie license when it was not free and lost all my investment when they made it free and even removed the real-time shadows from the free version. I upgraded… Pooh!! The shadows were gone like magic. What they offered me in return was to upgrade to pro at half the price. If I had the money I would NOT have purchased the indie.

2. Unity is not as cheap as advertised either. E.g. Even if you only want to publish to mobiles only (currently iOS and Android using the pro version – while using all the features available) a PER SEAT LICENSE will cost you USD 4500. I.e. 1500 for Unity pro & 1500 for iOS & 1500 for Android & add Flash on top of it is USD 6000 (As most of the clients I have spoken to are reluctant to use the Unity web plug-in as opposed to Flash).

3. Unity having a separate licensing program for Gambling (Or any other) only makes it worst. This means you may not create as you wish (where’s the true middle-ware solution in this?). Your hands are being tied. You got to pay Unity to create stuff you want. (But of course this is my understanding of the license. Please correct me if I am wrong)

Having said all this they do have some plus points when it comes to their solution. Learning curve is very small and lots of easy to use features. Besides, I understand the need of a strategic decision for a company to grow. Thus, I can only shed a tear for the loss of my investment and look in to alternatives such as CryEngine 3 & UDK where I get the full solution and pay a percentage on the revenue. But I insist that the end-users who became familiar with Unity after declaring the free version are truly lucky to have this application. I end this urging Unity to be more considerate to those who have already paid and have seen the potential of their system long before it was popular.

A disheartened and disappointed customer.

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