"We succeed only when you succeed."
Today, Epic announced that their premiere PC/console/mobile game engine, Unreal 4, is now free for all to use. This free license includes all future updates, and this announcement does away with last year's $19 a month subscription model. As part of the change, all paid subscribers will receive a $30 credit (for use in Unreal Engine Marketplace) and current subscribers will get a pro-rated refund on their current month. With one of the most powerful game engines in the world going free, the question becomes, what is the catch?
Well, there is a catch, and it's tied to the user's success. Any game or app shipped in Unreal 4 will net Epic a 5% royalty on gross revenue, but only once the product has grossed $3,000. That $3,000 gross figure is on a per quarter basis, and Epic describes the arrangement as one where "we succeed only when you succeed."
As for the reason for the change, Tim Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Epic Games, had this to say:
"In early 2014, we took the step of making Unreal Engine 4 available to everyone by subscription for $19 per month. We put all of our source code online, available to all who signed up. We flipped the switch and crossed our fingers.
The past year has been a whirlwind for everyone at Epic Games. Our community has grown massively. 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 eight 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 Epic’s 25 years as an independent company, we have seen no time of greater opportunity for developers than today. Whatever your development aspirations, Epic stands with you, both as a technology provider, and as a fellow game developer counting on UE4 to power our own games."
But to understand partly why making this tech free is such an empowering move for content developers on all levels, here is the Unreal Engine 4 Sizzle for GDC 2015:
Unreal 4 can be downloaded here.