tim sweeney gdc 2014Epic Games was holding a presentation during which they demonstrated new Unreal engine 4 (UE4) features, along with a completely new business model. Starting from today, Unreal Engine 4 will become a subscription-based products with which anyone can access all the UE4 engine, editors and source code (!) for $19.99 per month.

It used to be that UE4 was reserved to AAA developers only since the license could cost $1M to have access to the source and (and some support), in addition to possible royalties. Every license was negotiated differently, and while it was a great business for Epic, the world has changed since.

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s founder has recognized that the rise of mobile platforms and the evolution of Indie Games required a new business model. Obviously, the subscription based model will allow Epic to reach just about everyone who wants to poke around with the engine. However, developers will have to pay an additional 5% of gross revenues for all aspects of the games, which includes app sales, in-app purchases and other revenues generated by the game."THIS IS AWESOME FOR INDIE DEVELOPERS"  

If the game is completely free, there’s no royalties attached to it. You will only pay for the subscription. At the moment, this subscription applies to PC/Mac/Android/iOS. At the moment, console support is not available under those terms, but Tim Sweeney mentioned that there are legal bumps that require additional negotiations for now. Epic is very open to any developer who wants to have console access, and says that they will try to be “very supportive” and do their best to make it work for everyone.

unreal engine 4 flappy 640x359

A Flappy Bird clone done with UE4 by a non-programmer. Fun!

This is a very radical change, and one that puts UE4 directly into the path of Unity, the most popular engine used by Indie game developers. Unity benefits from a huge install base, and a great eco-system that is a bit more mature on mobile platforms. However, UE4 has a better 3D engine, and better performance, especially for high-powered 3D games that could benefit from extensive multi-core support, which remains Unity’s achilles heel.

In any case, this is awesome for Indie developers around the world: now they can benefit from the work that has been done by more than Epic 100 developers worldwide, and the cost of subscription and the royalties will be peanuts compared to the time saved to build this type of functionality.

Filed in Breaking >Gaming. Read more about GDC, gdc 2014 and unreal engine.

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