Improbable And Epic Set Up A Fund To Help Devs Swap Unity For “More Open Engines”

There’s a potentially growing debacle for the Unity, as Epic Games have stepped into their feud with Improbable and SpatialOS. Putting the boot in with their wording, Epic and Improbable have set up a $25 million fund to assist developers in transitioning from Unity to “more open engines”.

In a joint blog post between Epic and Improbable, they say:


To assist developers who are left in limbo by the new engine and service incompatibilities that were introduced today, Epic Games and Improbable are together establishing a US $25,000,000 combined fund to help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems.  This funding will come from a variety of sources including Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable developer assistance funds, and Epic Games store funding.

Improbable’s SpatialOS technology has been used by a number of companies over the last few years to create large scale online worlds for their games, plugging into major game engines such as Unity, Unreal Engine and CryEngine. It’s been used for games like Bossa Studios’ Worlds Adrift, Spilt Milk’s Lazarus and plenty more in development.

The dispute between Improbable and Unity has the latter accusing the former of breaking their terms of service over hosting Unity on online servers, and has now seen Improbable’s licenses revoked. Unity state that they gave Improbable notice on several occasions over the last few year, and that this is only tangentially related to the EULA update made in December.

Unity have also clarified that any developer already using Unity and SpatialOS is unaffected by this and can continue to operate, and that developers running Unity-based instances on their own servers or generic cloud hosting can also continue. However, Unity’s authorised list of other platforms is restricted to Genvid, Hatch, Mixer, and PlayStation Now.

Epic’s Time Sweeney was quick to respond to the situation yesterday, decrying what looks like broad overreach from Unity in their updated EULA:

It’s clear that from this, Epic and Improbable have got closer and that the future relationship between Improbable and Unity in serious jeopardy.

Source: Unreal, Unity

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  1. Well, that all got entertainingly stupid very quickly.

    It sounds like Improbable were doing something Unity wasn’t really meant to be used for. But Unity let them get away with it for ages while trying to come to some agreement, but that failed and they eventually told them to stop taking the piss. And now they’ve added terms that stop anyone doing it. Sounds like another “this is why we can’t have nice things” situation.

    But to update the terms so you can’t actually distribute anything built with Unity? That’ll be fun. Briefly. Until they update the terms again.

    And Epic are getting good at sounding like the good guys, aren’t they? $25m to help developers? I’m probably just getting too old and cynical, but my first thought was “that’ll be $25m of stuff that isn’t actually costing them $25m but works as a convenient tax dodge”.

    And a quick look at their joint post suggests that “more open engines” means “Unreal”. And so $25m is presumably “how much we can say it costs for the engine, maybe a special place on our store, and someone knocking up a couple of quick documents on how to move to Unreal instead”.

    • Improbable’s set up is A-OK with other game engine licenses, but it’s stupid that they’ve had a year during which time the technicalities haven’t been worked out.

      And the way the $25 million fund sounds, is that it’s a financial lifeline to devs through established channels like “Unreal Dev Grants, Improbable developer assistance funds, and Epic Games store funding”, not about support docs or anything. It’s actual money. Anyway, Unreal Engine is free to download and develop in for anybody, with Epic taking a percentage cut of eventual sales after you make more than $3,000.

  2. “have stepped into the feud between Improbable and SpatialOS.” The feud is between improbable and unity, isnt it? I mean SpatialOS is Improbables software…

    “Epic’s Time Sweenet was quick to respond” I think you mean Tim Sweeney?

    • Ugh. I’ve amended the article. Thanks.

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