Unreal Engine is now free… sort of

Unreal Engine is now free… sort of

Ever wanted to develop your own game or application using one of the technologies the “big boys” use? Well here’s your chance as Unreal Engine 4, and all future updates, are now available for free… sort of. Moving from a $19 USD per month subscription model Epic Games now merely require a 5% royalty on gross (over $3,000 per quarter) when you publish a game or application.

Supporting all major platforms Unreal Engine 4 comes with everything you need to get started. To quote Tim Sweeney

This is the complete technology we use at Epic when building our own games. It scales from indie projects to high-end blockbusters; it supports all the major platforms; and it includes 100% of the C++ source code. Our goal is to give you absolutely everything, so that you can do anything and be in control of your schedule and your destiny. Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can find it in UE4, source it in the Marketplace, or build it yourself – and then share it with others. You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation.

This is an interesting move as it makes the Unreal Engine more viable for those seeking to learn or start out while introducing a cost that’s directly proportionate to success. By bringing in this changed model they shift their ongoing revenue to something more volatile however you could safely surmise that the size and continuation of income from successful projects would far outweigh any negative impacts of the shift. In addition to this they’ll greatly increase their install base enabling them to grab more market share and, perhaps, get back some of that ground that shifted to Unity.

Author’s Edit : I’ve since realised that Unreal always had a royalty agreement as part of commercial release. Therefore all they’ve done is change their base model to free. Not that it changes my argument but it pays to clarify!

No matter which way you slice it this makes the Unreal Engine a more viable learning solution for new devs and the payment model encourages success.

Not sure what games use the Unreal Engine? Here are a few examples of games you may come across

– Batman: Arkham City
– Borderlands 2
– Bioshock Infinite
– Dishonored
– Enslaved
– Gears of War (PC)
– Mass Effect
– Mirror’s Edge
– Xcom: Enemy Unknown

Think you can make something like that? If not don’t worry, unless you’re making more than $3,000 USD gross per quarter you won’t have to pay a cent. It’s going to be interesting to see how some of the larger companies feel about this shift as 5% is a sizeable chunk of their profit.


There are two things I love in life... playing games and my family. I work three jobs; one to pay the bills, another as a video game designer at C117 Games, and, of course, here - at Another Dungeon. I own almost every console since the Atari 7800 and am proud of my extensive collection of games. I'm more of a single or coop player but I do dabble in multiplayer on the odd occasion. Tabletop wise I prefer strategic games like Five Tribes or Small World. If you want to have a game or just chat feel free to add me, PM me or email me.

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