unity

Improbable urges Unity to unsuspend their license, rectify ‘farcical’ situation for developers

Posted by | Gaming, improbable, unity | No Comments

Improbable may be pissed at Unity, but they still want them back.

In a blog post titled “A final statement on SpatialOS and Unity,” the team at the cloud gaming startup aimed to tell their side of the story and implored Unity to “clarify their terms or unsuspend our licenses.”

Unity is a game engine that developers use to create, among other things, games. Improbable offers a cloud solution to developers that basically enables large multiplayer online gameplay by rendering the game worlds across multiple servers on its SpatialOS platform.

Yesterday, Improbable announced that Unity had terminated their game engine access and that developers that used SpatialOS were in danger of losing their work. Unity responded that live and in-development games were fine and that Improbable was in violation of their new terms of service and needed to negotiate a new partnership.

In the new blog post, Improbable doesn’t mince words, saying it “still has all its Unity license and access suspended. We cannot easily fix bugs, improve the service or really support our customers without being in a legal grey area. Anyone who has ever run a live game knows this is a farcical situation that puts games at risk.”

Last night, Improbable appeared to leverage their relation with rival engine-maker Epic Games to put the heat on Unity, creating a $25 million fund with the gaming giant to help developers move to “more open engines,” a pretty transparent knock on Unity.

Improbable now seems to be claiming that Unity basically changed the rules on them and was trying to bully them into a deal that none of their other partners have requested.

“We do not require any direct technical cooperation with an engine provider to offer our services – Crytek, Epic and all other providers clearly allow interoperability without commercial arrangement with cloud platforms. We have no formal technical arrangements there and have not required any with Unity for years.”

Losing Unity support is a huge blow to Improbable, which has raised $600 million largely on the promise that it can revolutionize online gaming, something that would prove difficult to do without one of the largest available game engines.

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Improbable and Epic Games establish $25M fund to help devs move to ‘more open engines’ after Unity debacle

Posted by | epic games, Gaming, improbable, unity, unreal engine | No Comments

Improbable is taking a daring step after announcing earlier today that Unity had revoked its license to operate on the popular game development engine.

The U.K.-based cloud gaming startup has inked a late-night press release with Unity rival Epic Games, which operates the Unreal Engine and is the creator of Fortnite, establishing a $25 million fund designed to help game developers move to “more open engines.”

An incoming blog post penned by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable CEO Herman Narula reads, in part:

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.

This is pretty bold on Improbable’s part and seems to suggest that Unity didn’t give them a call after Improbable published a blog post that signed off with, “You [Unity] are an incredibly important company and one bad day doesn’t take away from all you’ve given us. Let’s fix this for our community, you know our number.”

Unity, for its part, claims that they gave Improbable ample notice that they were in violation of their Terms of Service and that the two had been deep in a “partnership” agreement that obviously fell short. The termination of Improbable’s Unity license essentially cut them off from a huge portion of indie developers who build their stuff on Unity.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney was quick to jump on the news earlier today, rebuking Unity’s actions.

This highlights a point: In the ecosystem like Unreal, Unity or Godot, companies live and die by the ground rules that are established. Devs have put years of their lives into building something, and nothing is worse than changing the rules and confiscating their investments.

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 10, 2019

“Epic Games’ partnership with Improbable, and the integration of Improbable’s cloud-based development platform SpatialOS, is based on shared values, and a shared belief in how companies should work together to support mutual customers in a straightforward, no-surprises way,” the blog post reads.

In a way this is a positive development for Improbable, suggesting that Epic Games is committed to sticking with the startup, but at the same time, one wonders how Unity and Improbable’s relationship managed to sour so quickly based on what’s been said publicly today.

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Unity pulls nuclear option on cloud gaming startup Improbable, terminating game engine license

Posted by | Gaming, improbable, TC, unity | No Comments

A pair of highly-funded gaming unicorns are publicly skirmishing and the deal could have major repercussions for game developers.

Today, UK-based cloud gaming startup Improbable, announced that Unity, a hugely popular game development engine, had terminated their license, effectively shutting them out from one of their top customer sources. If permanent, the license termination would be a significant blow to Improbable, which enables studios to host large online multiplayer games across multiple servers. The gaming startup has raised more than $600 million from top investors like Softbank, Andreessen Horowitz and Horizons Ventures.

Just how many Improbable customers utilize Unity as their game engine of choice through the SpatialOS GDK is unknown, but the two platforms do share some similarities in appeal among small teams looking to innovate. “Unity is a popular engine and that popularity extends to the people using our [game development kit],” an Improbable spokesperson told TechCrunch. Improbable’s SpatialOS platform also runs on the Unreal Engine and CryEngine and can be designed to work with custom engines.

So, how’d this happen?

The way Improbable told it this morning, Unity changed their Terms of Service last month and then, without warning, pulled the rug out from under them. That’s not how Unity sees it though, the company penned a terse blog post in response, alleging that Improbable was well aware that they were in violation of the ToS.

“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,” the post reads.

Unity developers using SpatialOS spent the day complaining about the move and wondering whether their projects in development would have to be completely reshaped. While the folks at Improbable also seemed unsure about this detail, Unity clarified in its blog post that SpatialOS projects that were live and in production would still be supported.

Unity’s Terms of Service isn’t exactly the most lucid reading material, but the section in question titled Streaming and Cloud Gaming Restrictions seems to lay out a fairly clear rebuke of what Improbable does.

You may not directly or indirectly distribute the Unity Software, including the runtime portion of the Unity Software (the “Unity Runtime”), or your Project Content (if it incorporates the Unity Runtime) by means of streaming or broadcasting so that any portion of the Unity Software is primarily executed on or simulated by the cloud or a remote server and transmitted over the Internet or other network to end user devices without a separate license or authorization from Unity.

The vagueness of the language does seem to give Unity broad discretion to wield the hammer.

The question, then, is why Improbable seems to have been targeted. Asked for comment, a Unity spokesperson referred us to their blog post. The answer probably lies in the “partnership” that both Unity and Improbable elude they were in the process of reaching, i.e. Unity likely wanted Improbable to pay up if they were going to be hosting the Unity Runtime on Improbable servers, but the two couldn’t come to an agreement.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, whose company operates the rival Unreal Engine, seemed to rebuke Unity on Twitter, suggesting that engines need to be more transparent in the governing rules they establish.

This highlights a point: In the ecosystem like Unreal, Unity or Godot, companies live and die by the ground rules that are established. Devs have put years of their lives into building something, and nothing is worse than changing the rules and confiscating their investments.

— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) January 10, 2019

Regardless, it now appears that Improbable realizes they may have pissed off the wrong powerful partner.

In a much more contrite blog post published later this afternoon, the team wrote, in part:

We apologize that this event we instigated has created so much uncertainty, confusion and pain for so many developers who really do not deserve this…

As a platform company, we believe humility and introspection are critical responses to the suffering of your community, however it comes about. We invite every company involved in today’s discourse to do a little of that.

We also invite Unity to participate in this broader thinking with us, whatever the outcome of our misunderstanding. You are an incredibly important company and one bad day doesn’t take away from all you’ve given us. Let’s fix this for our community, you know our number.

It sounds like Improbable became well aware throughout the course of the day that they are going to have be the ones to compromise here.

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Unity CEO says half of all games are built on Unity

Posted by | Gaming, John Riccitiello, Startups, unity | No Comments

Unity CEO John Riccitiello came to TechCrunch Disrupt SF to give everyone an update on the world’s most popular game engine. You might not be aware that most of the games you’re playing, especially mobile games, are built using Unity.

For those not familiar with game engines, Riccitiello started by describing game engines very clearly. Back in the days, “[game developers] would write out a game program that had lots of art assets, lots of animation, lots of sounds. But they also had to write a rendering engine, to write a system for animations, to write a system for sound, to write a system for physics,” he said.

It’s pretty much half of all games period. John Riccitiello

And when you wanted to port your game to another platform, you basically had to start over. Unity works on 30 platforms, including Windows, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, Oculus Rift, etc. Unity competes with Epic’s Unreal Engine, the game engine behind Fortnite and many games on the PS4 and Xbox One.

There are also less popular game engines from Valve, Amazon and others. The biggest game developers behind AAA franchises (think Battlefield or Assassin’s Creed) have their own in-house engines.

But it’s clear that Unity has captured a huge chunk of the market. According to Riccitiello, every month, people download 2 billion copies of Unity games. People tried at least one Unity game on over 3 billion devices.

In the past, Unity said that half of mobile games run on Unity. But it turns out Unity now also powers a lot of games on gaming consoles and computers.

“It’s pretty much half of all games period. We have different market shares, depending on the platform. But more than half of all mobile games built for there are built in Unity. More than 60 to 70 percent — depending on the platform — of everything built for machines for virtual reality or augmented reality or any of the XR platforms are built in Unity,” Riccitiello told interviewer Lucas Matney. “And then, about a little over half of all the games built for Nintendo’s platforms are built in Unity, a little bit less than that for Xbox and Sony. But in aggregate it’s more than half.”

One of the reasons why Unity became so successful is that its pricing structure is developer-friendly. Game companies don’t have to give a cut of their revenue to Unity, they pay Unity per seat on a subscription basis. Other companies sometimes ask you to sign a revenue-sharing deal to use their engine.

Even more important than numbers, Riccitiello thinks that Unity is all about enabling creators by giving them the right tools.

“What powers Unity is a simple philosophy, which is the world is a better place with more creators,” he said. “We drive ourselves to put the most powerful tools possible in the hands of creators, small and large so they can realize their dreams.”

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Virtual science lab startup Labster bags $10M to accelerate its ed tech play

Posted by | 3d, AR, augmented reality, Balderton Capital, ed tech, Education, Europe, Fundings & Exits, gamification, Gaming, labster, science, simulation, TC, unity, Virtual reality, VR | No Comments

 Ed tech startup Labster whose software platform enables virtual simulations of laboratories for teaching life science to students, has closed a $10 million Series A round of funding led by early stage European VC firm Balderton Capital. Read More

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Experience the future of reality simulations at Disrupt SF 2017 with Unity and Improbable

Posted by | Disrupt SF 2017, events, game engine, Gaming, improbable, software development, SpatialOS, TC, unity, unity-technologies, video game, Virtual reality, virtual world | No Comments

 Video games have never been just games, but as developers grow their ambitions, thanks to evolving, powerful game development tools, the line between real life and simulation has been growing much murkier. To hear more about it, join us at Disrupt SF 2017, where we’ll be chatting with John Riccitiello, the CEO of Unity, and Herman Narula, the CEO and co-founder of Improbable. Read More

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NASA is using a mixed reality space station to train astronauts

Posted by | astronauts, augmented reality, Education, Gaming, Government, mixed reality, NASA, robotics, science, TC, Training, unity, unreal engine, Virtual reality | No Comments

 NASA has always embraced emerging technology for visualization, even if that tech was seemingly developed for frivolous entertainment. We recently covered its holographic Mars exhibit, and the many 3D resources that NASA makes available to developers and educators. Now, the US space agency has partnered with Epic Games’ Unreal Engine to create a mixed reality International Space… Read More

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Facebook is building its own Steam-style desktop gaming platform with Unity

Posted by | Apps, Facebook, Gaming, Mobile, Social, Steam, TC, unity, Valve | No Comments

Facebook Games Facebook may try to compete with Steam, or at least win back revenue lost when casual gaming shifted to mobile. Today Facebook formally announced it’s working with game engine Unity to build a dedicated, downloadable desktop gaming platform, plus it’s broadening the Facebook.com experience for gamers.
Both will allow publishers to offer their iOS and Android games on desktop in… Read More

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Microsoft’s Visual Studio 2015 Will Launch On July 20

Posted by | Android, Enterprise, epic games, iOS, Microsoft, microsoft windows, TC, unity, visual studio | No Comments

RTMannounce Microsoft today announced that Visual Studio 2015 (VS 2015), the latest version of the company’s integrated development environment, will launch on July 20.
This latest version greatly emphasizes cross-platform development, with support for targeting Windows, iOS and Android, in part through its support for the Apache Cordova project and Xamarin’s app development platform. Read More

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