Improbable joins forces with Epic following spat with Unity

Improbable is aligning with Epic Games following a very public and nasty spat with Unity over SpatialOS.

The company, which uses the Unity engine for its own game platform called SpatialOS, recently released a statement saying that Unity found both the company and the game platform in violation of its terms of service.

“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 wrote. “In addition, Unity has revoked our ability to continue working with the engine for breaching the newly changed terms of service in an unspecified way. This will affect our ability to support games.”

This caused a ripple effect in the gaming industry, as developers who used SpatialOS quickly began taking their games down from the market. But in a strange twist, Unity released a statement (via Game Informer) saying that what Improbable was saying wasn’t the whole story: they knew about their violations months ago, and Unity only took action because of Improbable’s inaction.

“Six months ago, we informed Improbable about the violation in writing,” they said. “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.”

Unity went on to say that they will continue to work with developers who use SpatialOS. Improbable released a second statement saying that both companies were at fault for the spat.

“Ultimately a commercial dispute between two companies, in which both sides have certainly made errors, should never threaten access to essential technology used by a large number of developers,” they wrote. “A world where this happens frequently will be a world with very little innovation in gaming. We think this incident shows that, as an industry, we might need to consider making some changes which hugely increase the rate of innovation and the collective success we could all experience.”

Improbable soon followed their own advice. In a twist move, they along with Epic Games announced that they are teaming up to help developers caught in the crossfire between Improbable and Unity. despite the former saying they wouldn’t go after developers using SpatialOS.

“Epic Games and Improbable would like to jointly reaffirm our commitment to giving game developers the best combination of engine and other technology backed by interoperable standards that work for everyone, while respecting developers’ ability to choose partners and software components freely” Epic wrote in their own blog post.

Epic and Improbable have since set up a $25 million dollar fund to help those who are affected by the Improbable/Unity split to switch over to Epic’s Unreal Engine. It isn’t known who will take up the offer, but Improbable and Unity’s public fighting sure does put them in an awkward position.