Staff members have protested the company’s ties to the military in the past.
Both the phone and wall versions of the Unity logo, side by side
To use its digital simulation technology for defense objectives, the United States government has inked a substantial deal with software development company Unity (opens in new tab), inventor of the popular gaming engine of the same name.
The agreement, which spans three years and many millions of dollars, was disclosed by the corporation earlier this week, as reported by Bloomberg (link opens in new tab). CACI International Inc., an IT corporation that has worked with the US government in the past to supply military intelligence and aerial surveillance, is a partner on this contract.
“These applications need an engaging, rich user experience very much like games,” Unity’s senior vice president Marc Whitten said at Tuesday’s earnings conference. “This partnership will help the government define human-machine interfaces or HMI for aerospace applications and beyond.”
The agreement follows revelations from last year (opens in new tab) that Unity workers had ethical qualms about the overlap between the company’s military and non-military endeavors. Unity CEO John Riccitello had issued an internal statement at the time clarifying that the business “would not support operations where we knowingly violate our beliefs and objectives,” in reference to its military contracts, which included cooperation with Lockheed Martin. Workers reportedly reacted negatively to this, since they were learning for the first time about the company’s involvement with the military. Riccitiello said that the issue will be brought up at the next “town-hall meeting” for employees.
In a broader sense, the past several months have been rather difficult for Unity. Hundreds of workers were let off in June as part of the company’s purported effort to “realign” resources. One month later, it announced (opens in new tab) a merger with IronSource, which is notorious for developing the Malware application InstallCore. Meanwhile, after calling devs who don’t actively think about monetizing their games “fucking fools” in an interview, Riccitiello issued an apology (opens in a new tab). And only recently, mobile ad-tech giant AppLovin proposed to purchase Unity (opens in new tab) for S17.5 billion, a bid which Unity’s board indicated it will “thoroughly analyze.”
If this new arrangement has any bearing on whether or not Unity will accept the previous offer, that is unknown. What is apparent, though, is that Unity is moving through with its military operations despite the concerns of its staff. In fact, the business described this new collaboration as the “single largest digital twin solution transaction for Unity to date” in its earnings report.