In December, Unity changed its terms of service to put restrictions on how the engine can be used with cloud servers and streaming services. Developers have expressed plenty of confusion over the extent of what that means for their games, but many titles have already been dealing with the threat of shutdowns. One such service says the current terms would definitely prohibit the tools currently in use by many games.
SpatialOS is a tool for developers to build cloud-based multiplayer solutions across platforms and engines. Developer Improbable wrote a blog post today detailing what’s happening and what the team plans to do. “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 is in contact to resolve the issues with Unity, and – naturally – hopes to get the TOS change – section 2.4 – reverted entirely. In the meantime, developers aren’t sure what to expect. Lazarus developer Spilt Milk reports on Twitter being told that servers would be shut down today as a result of the dispute, but the deadline came and went without any action.
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. “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.”
A story from Ars Technica also toward plenty of concerned chatter on the Unity forums. AtomiCal, a developer using SpatialOS, writes “I woke up to a message essentially pulling the rug from under my feet saying that I can’t do that anymore. Unity won’t let it happen.”
While SpatialOS is currently 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. Tim Sweeney, boss of rival game engine maker Epic, tweets that “you couldn’t operate Fortnite, PUBG, or Rocket League under these terms.”
We’re currently trying to reach out to Unity for further information on what’s happening. The company’s community manager tweets toward developers that a more formal reply is coming “soon.” In the meantime, those who’ve been building games using SpatialOS – or tools like it – are left uncertain over whether they’ll be able to continue making their games in Unity.