Games made with Improbable's cloud technology in 'legal limbo' following Unity dispute

Joanna Estrada
January 11, 2019

Original story: A change to Unity's terms of service late a year ago means that SpatialOS, a cloud platform used in MMOs, can no longer be used with the Unity engine, jeopardising any Unity games that rely on the platform.

[Original Story] A massive change to the Terms of Service for developer engine Unity has shaken up the gaming world.

Not only that, but Improbable also says that Unity has revoked its own license for this ToS breach, which makes it hard for the company to support Unity games using SpatialOS.

Spilt Milk Studios uses both Unity and SpatialOS for its sci-fi MMO "Lazarus". "We were told that access to the servers would be revoked by 2:30 p.m. today, but it seems that's not the case. Until either the servers are forced down or we're told to turn them off, we'll keep "Lazarus" live".

"Though Unity's terms of service were updated at the beginning of last month, Improbable wrote today that Unity only recently confirmed the implications of those changes to it. "Unity has clarified to us that this change effectively makes it a breach of terms to operate or create SpatialOS games using Unity, including in development and production games", Improbable said today".

Worlds Adrift developer Bossa Studios also made a statement to fans on Twitter, but never mentioned an immediate threat of shutdown - in fact, the team received a contradictory message from Unity. Improbable also says it is continuing to talk to Unity in an effort to reverse the decision, though its license to work with the Engine has now been revoked. Bossa's steampunk ship-builder Worlds Adrift will continue as normal for the moment.

SpatialOS is a tool for developers to build cloud-based multiplayer solutions across platforms and engines. Unity Technologies could theoretically demand any game using SpatialOS to either halt development or take their servers offline.

In the meantime, the company has pledged to help developers using SpatialOS with Unity finish, release, and operate their games, and is setting up an emergency fund for partners who'll now be thrown into the financial mire. But Improbable now says that a recent change in Unity's terms of service means the SpatialOS is essentially blocked from working with the Unity Engine. "Live games are now in legal limbo". "Bossa's main priority is you, our players", the developer said on Twitter. "Whatever is happening in the background outside of our control, our focus is ensuring players are looked after and your memorable experiences in the game are protected".

Improbable is taking steps to now help developers, including setting up an emergency fund for partners and offering development support.

While SpatialOS is now the most public tool affected by this change, the vague wording in the TOS leaves the door open to much wider - and more distressing - lockdowns for Unity devs.

"All customers who entered into a relationship with us and Unity previously did so on the good faith understanding that the terms they signed up to, sometimes years ago, would allow them to be successful and not carry additional charges".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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