The serious business of making games


There’s a separate thread discussing the Bungie / Activision split.

This whole Unity / Improbable thing is extremely confusing. I think Rami Ismail put it best:

Unity’s response to Improbable makes complete sense, and Improbable appears to have been incorrect in their assessment, while also taking a private business matter public and misrepresenting it.

Meanwhile, Improbable’s response back to Unity is indeed “???”. They’re basically like “Sorry we were wrong, why don’t we all be friends??” while pivoting to a completely unrelated tangent.

The $25 million deal with Epic seems like a diversion away from the fact that they misrepresented Unity’s changes and caused a huge kerfuffle around it.


Things that don’t make sense in Unity’s response:

  • Lying about this being a just clarification of the TOS. They inserted new language into the TOS that’s blatantly just for the purpose of shutting down Improbable.
  • Lying about how nobody currently using SpatialOS will be affected. The new TOS outright forbids running the game server on a “cloud or remote server”. Maybe Unity is not intending to do anything to those developers. But they’re still going to be in breach of the license. Also they’ve prevented any further development of the middleware, meaning these developers Unity is “not affecting” are now left dealing with a total lack of support for what seems like pretty core technology.

I agree that the ??? post is absolutely bizarre. But I don’t understand why we’d trust any communication from Unity.


Oh, looks like Improbable just posted a more detailed timeline rather than that bizarre stream of consciousness crap:


I find it hard to side with Improbable on this one, according to Unity,

Improbable had a year’s notice of being in violation of Unity’s TOS, they did nothing to fix it.

Simply put.
Unity had a TOS that was a bit soft in wording, soft enough that Improbable thought what they were doing was in compliance
Unity informed Improbable that they were, in fact, in violation of the TOS, and they need to make changes to be in compliace (1 year ago)
Improbable does not make any changes, as the TOS hasn’t changed, and they still believe they are in the right.
Unity changes the TOS to be worded more explicitly, and pulls the keys from Improbable because they were not in compliance, and they had a year to fix it (or make a deal) and they didn’t.

I feel like Improbable played chicken with Unity and lost, then acted like this was some big surprise.


You bring up some good points, but I shall counter with: ???


Manveer Heir, formerly of EA and Activision, had some interesting tweets over the last day. There is a lot there but here are some key tweets:


Wasn’t that the lead dude on Mass Effect Andromeda?


Yep, and he specifically talks about his experience in those tweets. He also talked extensively about his experience on a podcast episode at Waypoint last year:


That game was so bad.


Oh yeah, as a lover of RPGs and Mass Effect, I just couldn’t wade through the bugs and UI to finish it. Such a disappointment.

Do you hear that rumbling?

They are coming…


The game was horse shit.


Is there an obvious reason Unity should want to restrict this kind of thing? Does it let small devs effectively do an end run around Unity licensing costs by going through Improbable?

I really don’t understand enough about the business model and the implications to understand what this dispute is even about.


God. I can imagine it now.

MEA team: We want to use UE4. We’re experts in Unreal and it’s a great engine.
Management: The corporate engine is Frostbite.
MEA team: Frostbite sucks. It doesn’t do X at all. Y is painfully slow, and Z is so buggy we’d rather reimplement it ourselves.
Management: We need you to help make it better than. Think about what’s best for EA.
MEA team: The Frostbite team won’t listen to us because the stuff we want them to do is boring and they’ve already overcommitted to doing impossible things that won’t help us but that will impress senior leadership. And even if they did listen to us they just don’t have the talent the unreal folks do.
Management: Look, criticizing other teams in the company is unprofessional. Everyone in this company is smart and capable.
MEA team: But this will set us back 6 months and its our reputations and jobs on the line if MEA fails.
Management: You’d better make it work then.

[Edited because Activision and EA are only interchangeable when talking about “evil” AAA publisher behemoths, not when talking about the actual companies]


EA using more Frostbite is indeed probably for the best of Activision.


From what I understand, the rumour mill is that unity want to get into the cloud services game themselves, and basically cut improbable out of the picture. Improbable has 170 employees and a ton of VC money, and I guess unity want to absorb that potential market, so step 1 is just to kill them off.

I’m no cheerleader for unity, but tbh the people who I think have fucked up are the likes of softbank who threw $500million to a company (improbable) who seem to be heavily dependent on the goodwill of a company that (to put it mildly) they do not have a good and sustainable long term partnership with.

Anyway, being an indie (INDEPENDENT!) dev, and relying on both improbable AND unity to not fuck you over and keep you in business seems… risky?


My reading is that that does seem to be the crux of it. Improbable was essentially redistributing Unity SDK components as part of their service, which apparently requires a “partnership license” (I think they call it) rather than the license a typical dev would have.

*eta “SDK”


To me, this is a company that was getting away with some grey area legal stuff before, Unity told them to do something about it (pay or partner or something) and they said no.

It is similar to the outcry from the youtube community over the drastic reduction in ad revenue in 2017. When you build your business or career off of someone else’s product or marketplace, they hold a lot of power over you.

I am not on anyone’s side her per-se, just that initial statement from Improbable felt very catty. “We broke up with them, they didn’t break up with us”


Epic Games Store - 88% split goes to devs


Aw, man. AER was a really great little game.