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Update: Unity have now responded. Bit of a headscratcher! Unity won't go after people using it, but they're removing any chance Spatial has to actually support it at all. They also said in comments they will make their TOS clearer.

Original article below:

While not directly related to Linux gaming, this is still some interesting news to be aware of for those working with the Unity game engine. Especially so, since both the Unity editor and Unity games (if the developer makes it so) work on Linux.

The team behind SpatialOS, a "managed cloud services" provider just announced that "all existing SpatialOS games using Unity, including production games and in development games of all developers, are now in breach of Unity’s license terms" which doesn't sound good at all.

Unity changed their terms of service last month, which specifically mentions this:

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.

This new restriction, is likely going to impact quite a few multiplayer games that were using Unity and SpatialOS. Using the wise words of developer Simon Roth on Twitter "Unity is looking to fully control who is allowed create cloud based games. It also means that they can control who starts a game streaming service." and that sounds pretty bad.

It doesn't seem to affect "normal" dedicated server hosting though, just to be clear on that point. The main points seem to be specifically involving streaming. I'm not entirely clear on just how different that is though in this case.

Here's the thing, Unity acquired the game hosting part of the company Multiplay back in 2017 so it's likely a case of Unity wanting to squeeze money out of every other provider, to put them off and get more people to use Unity's own services with their game engine.

As a non-developer, it's still all somewhat confusing I will admit. However, the idea that you pay to use a game engine like Unity as a service (since you don't actually own the Unity copy, it's only a license) and they set the restrictions on what platforms you can run on? Sounds bonkers to me.

See more here.

Ps. Good time to mention the FOSS Godot Engine.

19 Likes, Who?
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14 10 January 2019 at 2:11 pm UTC
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So we won't see any Unity games in Project Stream then?
liamdawe 10 January 2019 at 2:12 pm UTC
14So we won't see any Unity games in Project Stream then?
This would seem to prohibit that yeah.
Ehvis 10 January 2019 at 2:29 pm UTC
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If this is such a big problem, then this:

Quote... so that any portion of the Unity Software is primarily executed on or simulated by the cloud or a remote server ...

tells me that game (or middleware) devs have been doing some weird things.
CFWhitman 10 January 2019 at 2:35 pm UTC
The reason they can do this is because streaming a game basically distributes a copy to whomever is playing it (though the copy technically is on the server, an image of it is transmitted to the user). Since Unity have to license redistribution rights to all developers who use the engine, they can control the terms of that redistribution. Of course, it's quite possible that outside companies could continue to use an older version which doesn't have the restrictive terms, though I'm sure that Unity would try to prevent this.
liamdawe 10 January 2019 at 2:38 pm UTC
CFWhitmanThe reason they can do this is because streaming a game basically distributes a copy to whomever is playing it (though the copy technically is on the server, an image of it is transmitted to the user). Since Unity have to license redistribution rights to all developers who use the engine, they can control the terms of that redistribution. Of course, it's quite possible that outside companies could continue to use an older version which doesn't have the restrictive terms, though I'm sure that Unity would try to prevent this.
Yeah, that doesn't seem possible: https://twitter.com/Improbableio/status/1083361046696476672
Eike 10 January 2019 at 2:42 pm UTC
CFWhitmanThe reason they can do this is because streaming a game basically distributes a copy to whomever is playing it (though the copy technically is on the server, an image of it is transmitted to the user). Since Unity have to license redistribution rights to all developers who use the engine, they can control the terms of that redistribution. Of course, it's quite possible that outside companies could continue to use an older version which doesn't have the restrictive terms, though I'm sure that Unity would try to prevent this.

When using streaming, shouldn't the client only need minimal software, comparable to what is in the Steam Link?
CFWhitman 10 January 2019 at 2:46 pm UTC
liamdawe
CFWhitmanThe reason they can do this is because streaming a game basically distributes a copy to whomever is playing it (though the copy technically is on the server, an image of it is transmitted to the user). Since Unity have to license redistribution rights to all developers who use the engine, they can control the terms of that redistribution. Of course, it's quite possible that outside companies could continue to use an older version which doesn't have the restrictive terms, though I'm sure that Unity would try to prevent this.
Yeah, that doesn't seem possible: https://twitter.com/Improbableio/status/1083361046696476672

Whether they can change the terms retroactively is something that would most likely have to be settled in court if it were challenged. Changing terms retroactively is rather dubious legally, but I'm sure the liars, err lawyers could come up with some kind of argument.
MayeulC 10 January 2019 at 2:51 pm UTC
Well, on the bright side, that's another advantage on Godot's side
CFWhitman 10 January 2019 at 2:51 pm UTC
Eike
CFWhitmanThe reason they can do this is because streaming a game basically distributes a copy to whomever is playing it (though the copy technically is on the server, an image of it is transmitted to the user). Since Unity have to license redistribution rights to all developers who use the engine, they can control the terms of that redistribution. Of course, it's quite possible that outside companies could continue to use an older version which doesn't have the restrictive terms, though I'm sure that Unity would try to prevent this.

When using streaming, shouldn't the client only need minimal software, comparable to what is in the Steam Link?

Yes, but an additional copy is created for each user and then the results of what it's doing are distributed to a client. That is generally considered to be enough to constitute redistribution. In the case of a Steam Link, the results of the same copy already running on the computer go to another device used by the same person who is running the computer, so that does not constitute redistribution.
Dedale 10 January 2019 at 2:53 pm UTC
I clicked "like" because the article is interesting but to the layman i am it indeed sounds weird. Not only the specifics but also the very principle of a sudden license change. Won't the possibility of unpredictable change make devs insecure ?
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