Epic Games announced that Unreal Engine 4, its game design and graphic creation software would be free to download and use as of Monday, March 2. The service was launched in early 2014 with a $19 per month subscription fee. In September, Epic started to offer students free access to the subscription, provided that those students could provide credentials from an approved teacher or administrator. Now, like Unity, it is free for all, as will be all future updates. That is a basic savings, for those who do not relish math, of $240 a year.
The software has so many applications. Once users download the engine, it can be used for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. Users will pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue once a product or game is shipped, but only after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. On the Epic website, the creators explain that this “is a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.”
This is the same, unmitigated and uncompromised engine that is used to create everything from indie projects to high-end blockbusters. It supports all the major platforms, and includes 100% of the C++ source code. Developers will find, in this free-to-download engine, everything they need to create and sell their game: a large number of video tutorials and documentation to help newbies get started, ready-made game templates, samples, and content. Users can engage in discussions within UE’s forums, add to the wiki, join collaborative development projects via GitHub, and more.
So what if you were one of those who has been supporting UE with a paid subscription? Never fear; Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed in a blog post that current subscribers will receive a pro-rated refund. Not only that, but to thank those subscribers for their support, anyone who has ever paid for the engine will receive a $30 credit at the Unreal Engine Marketplace.