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Unity faces backlash over features “helpful” for the gambling industry

Unity is one of the most popular game engines out there, powering everything from tiny pieces of hobby development to some of the biggest hits in the industry. It includes features not just intended for traditional game developers, either – it also has a suite of tools intended to help devs in the gambling industry. Now the company’s facing backlash over those gambling-focused features.

“We recently delivered our first release of the year, Unity 2019.1,” the company said in a deleted tweet, “which includes ~300 features, many of which are especially helpful for developers in the gambling industry.” While that tweet is gone, Unity still has a dedicated gambling page on its official site, where it boasts of delivering “the best gambling experiences to the largest audience.”

“Supporting the gambling industry is lucrative, but also INCREDIBLY unethical,” says Insomniac character artist Xavier Coelho-Kostolny (via GamesIndustry.biz). He compares the gambling industry with his work on free-to-play MMO Neverwinter, and in both cases he says these systems “prey on the addictions of a relatively small number of people.”

Shortly after that thread gained traction, Unity deleted the original post and added a follow-up that says “based on your feedback today, we removed a tweet and blog post related to some upcoming 2019.1 features that are useful to creators of real-money games.” Unity has yet to issue any further public statement following the backlash.

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The link between loot boxes and gambling has been a controversial one – many find the psychological similarities too difficult to ignore, while regulatory bodies around the world have argued that loot boxes aren’t legally gambling because you can’t get money back out of the system. Either way, the lines between gaming and, well, gaming are getting increasingly thin, especially as tech like Unity is able to cater to both.

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