Unreal Engine 4 Is Now Free For Developers, Epic Will Collect A Royalty On Products Sold

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Mar 02, 2015 02:59 PM EST

The current version of one of the most powerful and popular graphics engines in gaming, Unreal 4, has been made free to license and use in development.

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The creators at Epic announced the news today, which signals a pretty big change in the payment model. The company had shifted to a subscription-based service last year, but are now removing any fee for using the engine. There is, however, a fee on products sold: Epic collects a 5 percent royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter.

That saves money up front, which might make it possible for indie developers to use the engine at all. Royalty fees will of course hurt developer profits over the long term, but that amount shouldn't cripple overall success. Epic has made the engine accessible to a lot more people, which benefits them by increasing its importance and proliferation as well as increasing the raw number of games that are potentially bringing in money through royalties.

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The announcement post explains the new plan, and you can read the rest for additional details:

"Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free! You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It's a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed.

"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."

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