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Unreal Announcement: Unreal Engine 4 Free

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In a stunning (or dare we call it unreal?) announcement, Epic Games announced they will provide the Unreal Engine 4 free. This isn’t only the engine, though, but also the updates!

In their blog post titled ‘If you love something, set it free,’ Epic Games team stated “You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. […] Our goal is to give you absolutely everything, so that you can do anything and be in control of your schedule and your destiny. Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can fine in EU4, source it in the Marketplace, or build it yourself – and then share it with others.” People who purchased a subscription to the engine will have their money refunded. The refunds will be issued to anyone who paid since January 31.

The Unreal Engine was used in the development of amazing games like BioShock, BioShock Infinite, Gears of War, Borderlands, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman: Arkham City, and many more. Its popularity is most likely due to the strong 3D technology, its awesome workflow capabilities, and the fact that it can cross-compile between Windows, Mac, Linux, the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, Android, and IOS.

Previously the Unreal Engine 4 would cost development studios $19/month/user ($19-per month-per user), which could actually get pretty expensive when dealing with large teams and projects that last for a long time. Its direct competition in the indie market was the CryEngine which only cost $9.90/month/user for commercial products as of March, 2014. It was already available for free for non-commercial use, but additional features required a subscription. Unity Pro costs $75/month while the engine with less functionality, Unity, is completely free.

The catch to the free release by Epic Games is that after the first $3,000 of gross revenue from a project using their engine, the developers must pay 5% royalties to Unreal (an arrangement that was also in the previous $19/month/user deal before). Neither Crytek nor Unity Pro charge royalty fees.

All in all, though, this is absolutely awesome. The Unreal Engine is generally considered pretty robust, and the incredibly low price point will absolutely go a long way to democratizing indie development even beyond what it is right now.  There is virtually no risk to development as you only have to pay money if you start to make money. We’ll also be able to see amateur developers work their way up to AAA development as well by having easily accessible tools to develop a portfolio. Considering the prolific use of the Unreal Engine, those amateur developers may also be more familiar with the tools they use when they get to a larger studio as well. All in all, this is absolutely a fantastic announcement for the future of game development.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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