In a post on the official Unreal blog, Epic Games revealed that Unreal Engine 4 is available to everyone for free, now and for all future updates as well. The only charge taken only comes after you ship a game or application, where a 5% royalty remains in place on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. As co-founder of Epic Tim Sweeney put it, “it’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.” This offer isn’t for a downgraded, less functional version of Unreal Engine 4 either: it’s the complete technology, supporting all major platforms, and including 100% of the C++ source code.
Unreal Engine 4 had previously been available since early 2014 for a $19 per month subscription fee. The team at Epic wanted to slowly take away more barriers from the use of the software so that “more people are able to fulfill their creative visions and shape the future of the medium we love.” For those who had been previously paying the subscription, Epic is offering a pro-rated refund for the most recent month’s payment as well as gifting all subscribers with a $30 credit to be spent in the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
Unreal Engine 4 not only comes with the game development and shipment tools but also a community of forums, AnswerHub Q&A, and the possibility of collaborative projects in GitHub. There is also the Marketplace where you can buy content powered by Unreal Engine 4 or sell your own. The engine comes with many video tutorials, game templates, and sample content to help new users get started on the system. Unreal Engine 4 is for indie devs, students of video game design, and professional companies alike. The examples on the website range from Seek, a mobile game from Five Pixels, to Lionhead Studios’ Fable Legends.
If you’re at GDC in San Francisco, more can be found out about Unreal Engine at the Epic Games booth- No. 1024.