Epic Games Opens Up Access to Unreal Engine 4 for $19 a Month
In a press briefing at GDC today, Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney announced a new pricing model for accessing Unreal Engine 4, and it’s less than $20 a month.
For $19 a month, prospective game developers will get access to the Unreal Editor in a ready-to-run form and the engine’s complete C++ source code. In a post on the official Unreal Engine site, Sweeney says,
This is the complete technology we at Epic use when building our own games, forged by years of experience shipping games like Gears of War for Xbox and Infinity Blade for iOS, and now reinvented for a new generation. Having the full C++ source provides the ultimate flexibility and puts developers in control of their schedules and destinies: Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can find it in UE4, source it in the GitHub community, or build it yourself – and then share it with others.
Of course, there’s a bit of a catch involved. You see, if you ship a commercial game using the engine under these terms, you have to agree to pay Epic 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users. That means if you take in a million dollars, you owe Epic $50,000 right off the top. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you’re already paying out half or more of that gross to other commitments such as Steam fees or advertising, it can be a fairly good chunk. Plus, if you happen to make a big hit, you’re going to be paying that 5% for a long time.
Still, anything that expands the access that game developers have to tools is ultimately a good thing, and this is a pretty big improvement over the deal Epic offered for Unreal Engine 3. That required devs to pay a $99 licensing fee, and then to fork over 25% of any revenue over $50,000. This new agreement will be far less onerous to developers, even without the $50,000 buffer.
There are lots of interesting things that might come of this, as Sweeney mentions initiatives to support Oculus VR, Linux, Valve’s Steamworks and Steam Box, and deployment of games to web browsers via HTML5. Basically, anything that you want to make, you can try to make, and it won’t set you back much money up front. The only question left is this: What will you make?