Middleware Access Could Become Restricted Due To Acquisitions
Takeovers and acquisitions have been a hot subject over the past six months between EA’s attempt to land Take-Two and their successful acquisition of BioWare and Pandemic. There had been rumors that Microsoft was looking to buyout Epic Games which would have much larger implications than what platforms Unreal Tournament and Gears of War would be released on – what would happen to Unreal Engine and its usage on PlayStation 3?
Epic president Mike Capps downplayed rumors of a Microsoft buyout, but did acknowledge that the uncertain future of middleware access is very real. EA’s purchase of Criterion and their Renderware engine is just one example of that reality.
“To be frank, the Midway guys were a Renderware shop through and through,” Capps told GamesIndustry.biz.
“And Renderware kind of fell out from under them right when they were making their decision for the next-generation of technology. So they had the code and they could have keep going that route, and they were really scared that if they went with [Unreal Engine] that they would have that same problem.”
Midway did ultimately opt to use Unreal Engine, but Capps said, “I can’t force my guys to keep working on the engine. Someone could start a really cool shop next door and take them all.”
“Our contracts don’t promise the future – it is what you get now. And then, of course we keep adding stuff, because it is good business.
“And we give all the source code – every line of source code – and that’s crucial. Because we require it from our own middleware partners.
“When it happens, and it always does, that we’re right about to ship and there is one bug in the code, we want to be able to fix it and go.”
Epic experienced this themselves when Ageia was purchase by NVIDIA.
“It could have been really hard for us,” Capps said. “It turns out that they got bought by someone who really wants to keep them going and work with us closely, but that is a major dependency for us, so we make sure we’ve got the source code so we can protect ourselves.”
“So we understand how developers think, I guess, because we think that way.”