Get Unreal Engine 4... For 19 Bucks?!?

Get Unreal Engine 4... For 19 Bucks?!?

With a monthly access model for Epic's Unreal Engine 4 - access to which will set you back about the cost of a WoW sub and a cup of coffee each month - it's officially time to see what people will do with it.

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I think your forgot the "by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users" part of the agreement for releasing a game. That's gross, not nett. So that's 5% of full retail price. It's not back-breaking but if your profit margins are tight it could squeeze your end cut of revenue after everyone else has taken their share.

EDIT; i looked but but hard enough. I have been corrected.

I'd be very interested in an article about CryEngine when all the details get released, especially as by then a comparison between CryEngine, Unreal and Unity's offerings would be possible.

Scrumpmonkey:
I think your forgot the "by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users" part of the agreement for releasing a game. That's gross, not nett. So that's 5% of full retail price. It's not back-breaking but if your profit margins are tight it could squeeze your end cut of revenue after everyone else has taken their share.

Paragraph four: "To be clear, they also get a cut of the profits if you ever use it to make a commercial game, but that's a topic for another time."

Shamus Young:

Scrumpmonkey:
I think your forgot the "by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users" part of the agreement for releasing a game. That's gross, not nett. So that's 5% of full retail price. It's not back-breaking but if your profit margins are tight it could squeeze your end cut of revenue after everyone else has taken their share.

Paragraph four: "To be clear, they also get a cut of the profits if you ever use it to make a commercial game, but that's a topic for another time."

Crap. Read it and re-read it but i still missed it :P. Ahhh well at least i got the exact figure right.

Anyway, decent article as always Shamus. I look forward to seeing the impact this has. Building a high end graphics/ game engine from scratch is becoming more and more unfeasible but i wouldn't like to see the idea of improving the basics of a games systems via good old fashioned ground up re-coding disappear. I guess my main fear about the UE4 is that it and its tools set could become TOO ubiquitous, leading design in a certain direction.

Scrumpmonkey:
I guess my main fear about the UE4 is that it and its tools set could become TOO ubiquitous, leading design in a certain direction.

Shamus purposely didn't get into it, but other big engines are starting to do this too, noticeably CryTek with their once outlandishly protective CryEngine 3. 3D modeling aside, the rendering engine included in it is enough to make any developer think long and hard. Let the competition begin :)

Too bad you missed this last month.
I feel like almost all you talked about was already said in the replies to the inital news, right here on these fine Escapist forums... :(

Shamus Young:

Scrumpmonkey:
I think your forgot the "by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users" part of the agreement for releasing a game. That's gross, not nett. So that's 5% of full retail price. It's not back-breaking but if your profit margins are tight it could squeeze your end cut of revenue after everyone else has taken their share.

Paragraph four: "To be clear, they also get a cut of the profits if you ever use it to make a commercial game, but that's a topic for another time."

Still, a cut of the gross is distinct from a cut of the profits - especially if there are no profits.

Didn't you always used to get the Unreal editor with the earlier incarnations of Unreal? (I don't recall if the first Unreal had it, but UT and UT3 certainly did) That was great but with that as a one-time standard what is the improvement over this subscription model? Kudos for pointing out it's about the same price as an MMO, though.

Also, is there anything like documentation shipping with this? While the UT version of UnrealEd was fairly intuitive I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to generate landscapes in UT3's version - the complexity has ramped up more than a bit.

Ultimately, though, kudos to Unreal for trying to get their product into as many people's hands as possible. Hope this approach pays off for them.

As somebody who has been working with Unity and really enjoying it, is there any specific reason for me to jump ship to Unreal and start learning those systems? (Besides the general benefits that always come with learning new tech and thus having access to more options for how to execute things)

This was not unexpected. Unreal Engine 4 is not picking up much in the low end as you stated because it is/was perceived as being for AAA games. But the low end market has been severely trounced by Unity. Which is easy to get, simple to use and has a horrific pricing scheme. Consider that apple is one of the best places (or one of the likeliest places - let's not get hung up on apple itself) their reasonable price for enabling Unity on iOS is cheap enough. However, add in their 25% gross and apple's 30% you end up with 45% to pay for everything. Unity did soften the deal by not charging for the first $100k. This lets a one man shop get their feet back under them before the 55% cut starts in.

The level of product is reasonable and the odds are high you might have to cough up for some other middle ware. What I am waiting for is what will happen in the middle ware market. Not that I care personally but it is interesting to watch these changes over the last four to five years. How the next year settles in the Indie market between Unity, UE4 and home grown Shamus wannabes all wrestle with how to make a game, make a living and not die of starvation while attempting it.

Good article again Shamus. Thanks.

It would probably have been a good idea to link the video from the article on the engine there was a couple of weeks back, on this very site.

When the vid came out that demonstrated the capabilities of the engine, there was an unrelated thread where the underlying subject was about subjective content and the worth of it, compared to the price of the game sold.

...I can't for the love of me, remember what that thread was, but the point is that this engine makes it easier to put out gorgeous looking games and it puts a new spin on what a game is worth paying for. While it shouldn't matter to anyone that there wasn't a team losing sleep for months and destroying their life outside work for it, it still cheapens the experience by default. Whenever I'll see a game using this engine, I'll automatically think to myself "these guys didn't bleed for it".

I suppose that's a sad way of looking at things and obviously there's still the whole actual game being made around that engine.
Maybe, deep down in my heart, if I can't imagine a programmer checking lines two nights in a row for missing periods thrice over, I don't get my sadistic needs fulfilled. Besides, code monkeys are in some way or another masochists and might turn to more dangerous ways of harming themselves.

The only practical argument I have for why this might be a concern, is that we'll see a lot more piles of shit attempting to get greenlit, assuming Valve doesn't stop it altogether.

Falterfire:
As somebody who has been working with Unity and really enjoying it, is there any specific reason for me to jump ship to Unreal and start learning those systems? (Besides the general benefits that always come with learning new tech and thus having access to more options for how to execute things)

<- Not a dev in any way. But here's the channel for what you might want to use it for.
The biggest advantage I can see is that you can test your environment and scripts in real time while seeing the code fire off in a seperate window, which to me seems like a convenience, rather than a technological breakthrough. There's a Lego kind of feel to it.
As far as I've noticed as a gamer, is that Unreal engines seem very friendly across specs, while Unity is a bit wobbly and seems somewhat limited in what you can do with it without much hassle (honestly though, I might as well be talking out of my ass. I just parrot what a friend of mine rants about, so I'm not presenting this as truth, just an uneducated opinion).

As someone who is paying for the subscription, I think it's totally worth it. The engine is robust, fully featured and never ceases to impress me. The community is growing rapidly and the developer support for questions and bug reports is very good.

I have no qualms with paying their fee for such a good engine.

As a programmer, the fact that you get the entire source code with the engine, something Unity will only give you on B2B deals on the order of $100k and that previous Unreal licensing structures cost around $750k is really amazing.

The 5% net fee might seem like a lot, but if it means the difference between having your game realized and not, I see it as a worthwhile expenditure.

it'll be interesting to see where this goes. I have some friends working in Unity, and some other stuff for the more advanced folk. wonder what they'd think about Unreal 4 about now

I am not a dev, but i'd like to think that i am clever enough to realize the HUGE amount of everything it takes to make a game. Nevertheless i am really excited about the UE4 engine for the gaming community. The Tech Demos look awesome and the developer-videos showing of the content creation and control features is understandable even for the laymen. It may not jumpstart a new age of indie, but taking into account that people really like sharing their work and how successful the creative commons concept is i really hope that over time there will be a mid to high end quality - low cost amount of assets for the Engine. As I said, i dont expect it to explode, but over time, this concept could have incredible results. And he haven't even talked about the fact, that this engine has native PS4, Xbox and Linux(SteamOS) support! Never were quality ports on all system so near!

Darkness665:
This was not unexpected. Unreal Engine 4 is not picking up much in the low end as you stated because it is/was perceived as being for AAA games. But the low end market has been severely trounced by Unity. Which is easy to get, simple to use and has a horrific pricing scheme. Consider that apple is one of the best places (or one of the likeliest places - let's not get hung up on apple itself) their reasonable price for enabling Unity on iOS is cheap enough. However, add in their 25% gross and apple's 30% you end up with 45% to pay for everything. Unity did soften the deal by not charging for the first $100k. This lets a one man shop get their feet back under them before the 55% cut starts in.

May i ask were you found the Cut information about unity.
I saw nothing of the sorts. They don't allow you to publish games with the free version of unity, if your company has a value greater than 100k, but i saw nothing about 25% cuts.
In the contrary, on the faq page i saw this:

Are there royalties or a per-title fee?
No, Unity does not charge on a per title basis and you do not pay royalties or pay revenue share, even for games and applications made with the free version.

here's the thing that I'd like to know: will the drop in price when licensing an engine coupled with its insane accessibility also reduce the cost of developing AAA titles? Because engines seem to be the number one money sink in the industry these days.

What I'm asking is: what potential does this have of saving the AAA industry from collapsing onto itself due to the ridiculous production costs?

Simple economics really, a penny a piece from many quickly outweighs a pound a piece from the few. Especially as they are taking a cut of the profits too, imagine if some of the games using this blow up the way some of the indie games have done they will make way more than selling an expensive engine to the lesser number of developers that can afford it. Helping to grow the industry is part of the "long game" too, if even more indie and smaller developer games are looking and playing like AAA games it can only bring more gamers into the fold as they are attracted by great looking games for great prices.

Elijah Newton:
Didn't you always used to get the Unreal editor with the earlier incarnations of Unreal? (I don't recall if the first Unreal had it, but UT and UT3 certainly did) That was great but with that as a one-time standard what is the improvement over this subscription model? Kudos for pointing out it's about the same price as an MMO, though.

The editor that shipped with the previous Unreal games (and some third party games based on Unreal engine), could only be used to create maps and mods for the game it shipped with. Meaning, you couldn't freely distribute a "standalone" version of your mod, as it would require the base game to run. Neither could you sell it, or have a dig at the source code. They later changed this somewhat, with the freely available standalone UDK, which is pretty much the UnrealED with some free samples and assets included. Projects made with UDK could be freely distributed without the base game, but not be sold without a specific licensing deal.
With this new model, you're free to distribute and sell your project, plus you get the source code. It's pretty much full access to what large developers had to pay large sums of money for back in the days.

Scrumpmonkey:
I think your forgot the "by paying 5% of gross revenue resulting from sales to users" part of the agreement for releasing a game. That's gross, not nett. So that's 5% of full retail price. It's not back-breaking but if your profit margins are tight it could squeeze your end cut of revenue after everyone else has taken their share.

EDIT; i looked but but hard enough. I have been corrected.

Although I will never make a game and am likely not able to really evaluate this, I have to say it still seems like a good deal. This gives you access to top level (or at least decent...a lot of good games seem to use Unreal) technology, and the ability to have a common development platform.

Shamus' analogy to the Microsoft Office of Game Engines is an apt one. Word Perfect was an excellent word processor (arguably much, much better than Word) but the omnipresence of Office created a common platform that allowed easier communication. The cost was large, but in the end things work a little easier for everyone.

Not my strongest argument, but 5% to have access to excellent quality tools seems fairly decent, and for Epic to give up this sort of tech, even if it is devalued now is still a pretty brave thing to do.

Darkness665:
This was not unexpected. Unreal Engine 4 is not picking up much in the low end as you stated because it is/was perceived as being for AAA games. But the low end market has been severely trounced by Unity. Which is easy to get, simple to use and has a horrific pricing scheme. Consider that apple is one of the best places (or one of the likeliest places - let's not get hung up on apple itself) their reasonable price for enabling Unity on iOS is cheap enough. However, add in their 25% gross and apple's 30% you end up with 45% to pay for everything. Unity did soften the deal by not charging for the first $100k. This lets a one man shop get their feet back under them before the 55% cut starts in.

The level of product is reasonable and the odds are high you might have to cough up for some other middle ware. What I am waiting for is what will happen in the middle ware market. Not that I care personally but it is interesting to watch these changes over the last four to five years. How the next year settles in the Indie market between Unity, UE4 and home grown Shamus wannabes all wrestle with how to make a game, make a living and not die of starvation while attempting it.

Good article again Shamus. Thanks.

This information is WRONG, there is no % cut from unity. Unity free is free, and you can publish whatever without paying them a single dollar on the Pc or on an iOS/android device, if you get unity PRO you can pay a ~75 dollars per month subscription, OR the complete ~1500 dollars for pc (+another 1500 for iOS pro or Android pro) again without ANY further publishing payment.

The UDK (unreal 3)license does take 25% of gross profits when you made MORE THAN 50k. And Cry Engine used to take 20% of any profit, but CryTech changed that model already ( it is now 10 dollars a month ).

On our studio we decided to go with Unity for now, simply because the 5% royalty fees for Unreal seems like a bad precedent. I'd rather pay a few thousand once or a more expensive subscription than that... Royalties simply for using an engine.. no ...it seems wrong.
Technically Unreal 4 from my experience, works quite well but is sluggish as hell. It requires 8gb of ram for it just to run at all. But it takes a toll on the most powerful of setups. It may be a matter of iteration and optimization, but at this point it is a huge resource hog.
It is great to use C++ and to have the complete source code, instead of Unreal Script which I'm not a big fan of. But we haven't really found anything in Unreal 4 that you cant do with Unity + a few plugins. And the flexibility and agility of the engine, is simply more important for us.

Tempting though.. very tempting.

Over the years I have lost a lot of respect for Tim Sweeney and Epic ... but this is ballsy. A lot of non open source developers would rather die than hand out their precious like this.

Pinky's Brain:
Over the years I have lost a lot of respect for Tim Sweeney and Epic ... but this is ballsy. A lot of non open source developers would rather die than hand out their precious like this.

They aren't exactly handing it out.
It's still a closed source product, you still need a license to use it; they have merely lowered the barrier of entry in order to stay competitive.

It's not OSI open source, but I can take a look at the most recent source code for the price of a large pizza ...

I'm a developer currently using Unity and have paid the full price for the pro version outright, I find this much more appealing than any subscription model. I also much prefer not having to worry about future loss of income from shipping my title. I have no worries about Unity asking for a percentage cut of the money I make.

But really, UE4 is amazing, it's got a heck of a lot of sweet juicy tech in it; but it's missing things that I need, it has almost zero 2D support and isn't structured for many types of games that I am wanting to create.
It's awesome that engines are getting cheaper and becoming more open source, because as much of the indie development community feels, it's less about holding onto your techniques and more about helping people to realise their ideas. Programming and art can be bought, good quality ideas are less realised. Letting someone create a game without needing to make their own engine is a big step towards that.

 

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