Improbable and Epic Games have announced a surprise new $25,000,000 fund "to help developers transition to more open engines, services, and ecosystems". The announcement comes just hours after a public war of words between Improbable and Unity, after the former claimed that a recent change in Unity's terms of service rendered its SpatialOS technology in breach of Unity's terms – and thus potentially fatal to SpatialOS / Unity titles including Lazarus and Worlds Adrift.
Unity made the counter-claim that Improbable had been advised well in advance of the December Terms of Services change, and that anyway, games using SpatialOS – including Lazarus and Worlds Adrift – would not be affected by the deactivation of Improbable's Unity Editor license keys. Andy has the blow-by-blow here. It appeared as if the companies were close to a resolution, but the newly revealed Epic / Improbable initiative paints another picture.
The $25m fund was announced in a letter co-authored by Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Improbable CEO Herman Narula, and is presumably targeted towards studios and projects that use both the Unity engine and SpatialOS technology.
"We believe we are at the beginning of an unprecedented age of inclusive online games that become parts of our everyday lives," the letter reads. "Enabling this will take much more than Epic or Improbable; it will take a vastly more mature, broad-based industry to enable this future: a community of companies connected by values such as fair and openly disclosed business terms, respect for developer choice, and full interoperability between platforms, software, and services. We encourage others with a similar vision to reach out, so we can find ways to make it come sooner."
It continues: "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 money will be distributed via the long-running Unreal Dev Grants initiative, as well as in the form of Improbable developer assistance funds and Epic Games store funding.
We'll have more as the story develops.
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Shaun Prescott is the Australian editor of PC Gamer. With over ten years experience covering the games industry, his work has appeared on GamesRadar+, TechRadar, The Guardian, PLAY Magazine, the Sydney Morning Herald, and more. Specific interests include indie games, obscure Metroidvanias, speedrunning, experimental games and FPSs. He thinks Lulu by Metallica and Lou Reed is an all-time classic that will receive its due critical reappraisal one day.