During the 2014 Game Developer’s Conference, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeny announced its Unreal 4 Engine will be adopting a subscription model and be available to anyone for $19 a month and 5% gross revenue.
“This is the start of something new for Epic…With Unreal Engine 4 we’re looking to wipe the slate completely clean” Sweeney said.
And clean the slate they have. Unreal used to have a free Unreal Development Kit (UDK) for non-commercial developers to use and make games with, their old EULA allowing game developers to sell those games for a $99 fee, and 25% royalty on UDK related revenue above $50,000. That webpage no longer exists.
Replacing that system is something bigger and better. “Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone, and priced so that we succeed only when you do…You can cancel your subscription at any time and keep using the engine, though without monthly updates” the registration page reads.
A subscription will net you the tools to make games on PC, iOS, and Android with the hope of console support coming later. All subscribers will get access to Unreal’s complete C++ source code.
Bigger teams making bigger games can still negotiate with Epic in regards to licensing fees and royalty fees.
“This is a tool, and engine, that can benefit absolutely everybody” Sweeney said.
At first, before I dug around a bit, I was concerned. The free UDK was something special, and seeing that gone seemed like a bad omen. However, the more I read into this new model, the more I really like it. The Unreal Engine is a massive creation tool, and so many video games are made in it. Allowing easier access to even smaller teams of video game creators can only be good for the industry, and I applaud Epic in their efforts to improve the independent market.