After 17 years and four generations, Epic Games has abandoned it’s pay-to-use policy on
the Unreal Engine. This means that game developers and graphic designers can freely
download and install the product without the former $19 hit each month.
When designing games or other graphic-intense projects, there are hundreds of engines available. Perhaps the most versatile is Maya, from which you can produce practically anything…games, architectural renderings, lawn furniture…you get the point. But Maya is pricey: $185 per month or $3675 to purchase outright for the 2015 edition. Other engines
are completely free, notably Quake, but are not as powerful as their paid counterparts.
So what’s the catch? The Unreal Engine (4th generation) is more powerful than
many other engines…and it’s free, right? Well, almost. If you go on to release a for-profit product designed with Unreal, you must pay a 5% royalty back to Epic Games. This seems both nominal and fair. Epic succeeds only if you succeed, and to proportional degree.
Will the free-to-use model draw more developers to the engine, or has Epic Games set an Unreal expectation? We shall see.