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Unity CEO clarifies Improbable violations, future plans in AMA

John Riccitiello emphasizes platform's "developer-first" focus as driving TOS changes

As the dust settles on the week-long back-and-forth between Unity and Improbable, Unity CEO John Riccitiello and CTO Joachim Ante took to Reddit for an Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on the situation following an update to Unity's Terms of Service.

The platform's TOS update earlier today opened the door to developers integrating any third-party service through Unity, although not all services would be supported by the platform. The company also reinstated Improbable's license for SpatialOS, though Ante clarified Unity "does not consider them a partner" and that their TOS breach occurred before the December change to the Terms that Improbable says sparked the initial dispute.

In a Reddit AMA today, Riccitiello and Ante mostly helped clarify for developers various specificities of the terms, as well as emphasized that aside from further clarifications, the company was not planning major changes to the TOS anytime soon.

However, responses to a few of the questions shed a bit more light on what exactly the issue was between Unity and Improbable to begin with. Riccitiello made a point to say that while the company did reinstate Improbable license, it still felt it had been in the right to revoke it.

"We feel we were right to have terminated their licenses for the TOS violation," he said. "We were hoping for an open and honest discussion with them on these issues, but were not able to get to a good discussion. Separately, we heard from our community on our TOS and made changes that reflect the way we feel is right. Aside from Improbable, we've never terminated licenses for a service provider, and would not have in this instance had they been more open with us."

In another response, he offered a marginally more specific outline as to what the violation was, though specifics are still unclear.

"We feel they were in violation both on a technical level and with marketing," Riccitiello said. "We asked them to certify to us in writing that they were not in violation. They did not provide this written certification. They then changed their implementation with a new GDK. We again asked them to certify this was not in violation of our TOS. We asked they do this in writing, and they did not. They also, in our view, used Unity trademarks / brand in their marketing materials and on their website in ways that suggested a partnership, that did not exist."

Further discussion ensued on how Unity marketing could be used, with Riccitiello and Ante clarifying that while it was acceptable under Unity's license to say a product "works with Unity," but that it could not claim to be partnered or supported by Unity without Unity's permission.

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Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.