Video game enthusiasts may be familiar with the ‘Unreal’ franchise. First appearing in 1998, the first-person shooter from developer Epic Games was an instant hit, praised among other things for its rich, atmospheric graphics and sophisticated level design. Both of these were enabled by the ‘Unreal Engine’, a development toolkit released alongside the game. Its impact is difficult to understate: the platform has brought thousands of titles to life, licensed out by numerous external developers to create experiences which even casual gamers will know. Epic itself still powers titles with the engine, such as the free-to-play ‘Fortnite’, a cultural phenomenon now boasting more than 350 million registered players.
In other words, Unreal Engine is an enterprise unto itself, with Epic now readying the release of its fifth iteration. In 2015, the company made an important change to the engine’s business model: costly licence fees were abolished in favour of a free-to-use model, with commercial use of creations permitted through royalty deals.
Continue reading here