Our response to Improbable’s blog post (and why you can keep working on your SpatialOS game)
Improbable published a blog post regarding their relationship with Unity earlier today. Improbable’s blog is incorrect.
We terminated our relationship with Improbable due to a failed negotiation with them after they violated our Terms of Service.
We’ve made it clear that anyone using SpatialOS will not be affected.
Projects that are currently in production or live using SpatialOS are not affected by any actions we have taken with Improbable.
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.
We have never communicated to any game developer that they should stop operating a game that runs using Improbable as a service.
What happened and why?
Partnering with technology companies is key to our approach in providing a robust game engine across many platforms. As such, we were excited to listen and explore ideas with Improbable when we started discussions more than two years ago. Unfortunately, Improbable chose an approach which doesn’t involve partnering with Unity, but instead involves making unauthorized and improper use of Unity’s technology and name in connection with the development, sale, and marketing of its own products.
More than a year ago, we told Improbable in person that they were in violation of our Terms of Service or EULA. Six months ago, we informed Improbable about the violation in writing. Recent actions did not come as a surprise to Improbable; in fact, they’ve known about this for many months.
Two weeks ago we took the action of turning off Improbable’s Unity Editor license keys. This is a unique case — and not a situation we take lightly — but Improbable left us no choice. This was the only course of action to protect the integrity and value of our technology and Unity developers.
We believe that even though Improbable is violating our EULA, game developers should never pay the price for that. We have been clear with Improbable that games currently in production and/or games that are live are unaffected, and we would have expected them to be honest with their community about this information. Unfortunately, this information is misrepresented in Improbable’s blog.
We are genuinely disappointed that we have been unable to come to an agreement with Improbable, and their improper use continued until we took the action we did. Despite this fact, we can assure developers that they will be able to continue development while we resolve our dispute. We are committed to ensuring that developers will receive support for any outstanding questions or issues as we work through this problem.
You changed your terms of service too, what’s that about?
From time to time, Unity will update its Terms of Service (TOS) to reflect how we run our business and address questions from our partners and customers. In December, we made clarifications to our Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions because we received requests for clarification as the industry is evolving quickly.
At the core, the Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions terms are still the same as before. We received feedback that the language was ambiguous, so we updated our Terms of Service to be clear on our distribution and streaming restrictions. We will continue to listen to the community and clarify as we can.
From a technical standpoint, this is what our clarification on our TOS means: if you want to run your Unity-based game-server, on your own servers, or a cloud provider that provides you instances to run your own server for your game, you are covered by our EULA. We will support you as long as the server is running on a Unity supported platform.
As an example, if you have made a Windows or Linux player build of your game to be an authoritative game server and run that on a server in-house, you can continue to develop, publish or operate your game as usual. If you rent a server or pay for a cloud instance to run the game, you can continue to develop, publish or operate your game as usual.
However, if a third party service wants to run the Unity Runtime in the cloud with their additional SDK, we consider this a platform. In these cases, we require the service to be an approved Unity platform partner. These partnerships enable broad and robust platform support so developers can be successful. We enter into these partnerships all the time. This kind of partnership is what we have continuously worked towards with Improbable.
Update: We understand there are still some questions about our TOS. We’re currently working to make the TOS clearer. If you are worried about your particular situation please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll address your question.
Update (Friday 4:30PM Pacific): We’ll continue working over the weekend to clarify the language to make our intention as clear as possible rather than rushing and adding to the confusion. Rest assured we will never do anything that works against the better interest of developers. We’ll have an update in the next few days. Thank you for your patience.