In 2014, the Unreal Engine moved to something of a subscription model. If you wanted to use the engine you had to pay $19 per month. Now? Tim Sweeney of Epic Games has announced that the engine is free. Yep, the Unreal Engine has totally just gone free-to-play.
There is a slight catch. In Tim Sweeney's words:
You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.
I say 'catch', but in reality it's totally fair, and most developers are celebrating.
At the moment, most hobbyists and small development teams tend to use Unity for their gaming projects, not just because it's a great tool for making video games, but also because it's free. I suspect this move will attract many of these smaller developers to consider using the Unreal Engine for their work.
For Tim Sweeney, this is a chance to help reward and further grow the community of developers using the Unreal Engine.
The past year has been a whirlwind for everyone at Epic Games. Our community has grown tremendously. The quality and variety of creative work being done has been breathtaking. When we asked people to submit their projects to be shown this year at GDC, we had the challenge of picking just 8 from over 100 finalists that were all good enough to show.
The state of Unreal is strong, and we’ve realized that as we take away barriers, more people are able to fulfill their creative visions and shape the future of the medium we love. That’s why we’re taking away the last barrier to entry, and going free.
In addition: anyone who has ever paid for an Unreal Engine subscription will be provided with $30 worth of credit to spend in the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this affects the games themselves. Will this result in an increased amount of cool, smaller projects being built? I hope so.