Unreal Engine royalties waived on first $1 million in game revenue

Starting today, Epic also has another treat for those making games. Developers can download and use Unreal Engine for free as always, except now royalties are waived on the first $1 million in gross revenue per title. The license is free to use, and a royalty of 5% of proceeds is due when developers monetize their games.

The new Unreal Engine license terms, which are retroactive to January 1, 2020, frees developers from worrying about whether they have to make a big engine payment even if their game is unsuccessful.

Epic also said that its Epic Online Services have launched and are now open up to all developers for free in a simple multiplatform SDK. Developers can mix and match these services together with their own account services, platform accounts, or Epic Games accounts.

This makes it easier for developers to add multiplayer services such as friends, matchmaking, lobbies, achievements, leaderboards, and accounts. Epic built these services for Fortnite and launched them on seven major platforms — PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, PC, Mac, iOS, and Android. Now it’s giving the services to all developers.

“Our goal since the very early days has been to connect all the players across all the platforms,” Sweeney said. “We pioneered this in Fortnite, the first to connect Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Apple, Google devices, every device, and enable everyone to play together. We’ve taken that entire stack of online technologies and we’re opening it up to all developers, including the nuts and bolts game services like matchmaking and data storage. But also the account system and the friends graph we built up for Fortnite, with more than 350 million players across seven platforms, and more than 2.2 billion social connections. That’s now open for everyone. You can piggyback on all of Epic’s efforts to build up this multiplatform audience and then contribute back to it by using it in your game, having your players add your friends to it.”

Asked why Epic felt like the technology made such a leap to call it Unreal Engine 5 (coming seven years after Unreal Engine 4), Sweeney said, “It’s a real generational leap in new features. Even though it doesn’t break things as previously — Unreal Engine 5 will be a straightforward upgrade for anyone working with Unreal Engine 4. It’ll be like going through a few minor version updates. But it has major new graphical features targeted at a new generation of hardware, defined by PlayStation 5. These capabilities are also coming to PC and elsewhere.”

Any snake oil?

Above: Epic Games says there’s no snake oil in this scene.

Image Credit: Epic Games

And asked if the internet was going to pick apart any snake oil here after seeing the video, Libreri insisted, “This is running on a PlayStation 5. It’s running on the hardware.”

And Sweeney said, “It’s all real. The important thing is that this was not a vast new content development effort. These assets came straight from Quixel. We put it together pretty quickly into a scene. That’s the point of the technology, to enable any creator to build this kind of high quality scene without having to create each piece by themselves manually.”

Above: Unreal Engine 4

Image Credit: Epic

Libreri added, “I’m pretty certain that next-generation games on Unreal Engine can look like that. This is not a smoke and mirrors act. We’re genuinely trying to build technology that we enjoy using ourselves, and then have a game team build the demo, and then get it into customers’ hands. Once the Nanite stuff is in customers’ hands, we’re excited to see what they discover, how they want to evolve it. We’re going through a bunch of the workflows to make sure they’re efficient for all studios, but it’s exciting. Something that looks as good as that, it can’t help but bring joy. We’re excited. The next year is going to be amazing.”

Libreri said the tech will scale well to cloud-deployed GPUs, which means that if everybody is still stuck in their homes they will be able to tap cloud data centers to get their work done when Unreal Engine 5 ships.

Is Epic making some kind of Tomb Raider game?

Above: This Lara Croft-like character is not a glimpse at the next Epic Games title.

Image Credit: Epic Games

Since the demo setting and character felt so familiar, I had to ask if Epic was making a game based on the demo.

“We’ve done a bunch of cinematic demos in the past, and then the past couple of years we’ve made stuff that was more gameplay,” Libreri said. “We wanted to do that again. We wanted to make something that felt genuinely could be a game. We had the idea that we’d have an explorer — we all like Uncharted and the Lara Croft games. We’ll make an explorer character that’s going to go through an environment. Quixel was around, they were our friends, and they said, “Well, we’ve got some awesome new rocks and all that, some caves that we’ve built.” I went to Malaysia last summer, and I went to see the Batu caves. They look like this. I brought back some photographs and said, “Check this out. Have you got anything like this?” We just riffed on that.”

Looks like the next generation is starting here.

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