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Unreal Engine now $20/mo + 5% royalties


Unreal Engine announced yesterday/today (I heard about it yesterday, but the blog post I read yesterday has today's date...) a new version of the engine, as well as a new pricing model.

So now, you too can be licensed to use Unreal in your game project for only $20 per month, plus 5% of any sales:

Unreal Engine 4 launches today. What we’re releasing is both simple and radical: everything.

Epic’s goal is to put the engine within reach of everyone interested in building games and 3D content, from indies to large triple-A development teams, and Minecraft creators as well. For $19/month you can have access to everything, including the Unreal Editor in ready-to-run form, and the engine’s complete C++ source code hosted on GitHub for collaborative development.

This is the complete technology we at Epic use when building our own games, forged by years of experience shipping games like Gears of War for Xbox and Infinity Blade for iOS, and now reinvented for a new generation. Having the full C++ source provides the ultimate flexibility and puts developers in control of their schedules and destinies: Whatever you require to build and ship your game, you can find it in UE4, source it in the GitHub community, or build it yourself – and then share it with others.
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Personally I disagree with the idea of a subscription model. It's better to own your tools than to rent them. If you come up on hard financial times and can't pay rent on your tools, then you can't work to earn more money to pay for your tools. But that's just my opinion.

In either case, I'll stick with Unity, which you can use for free and you don't have to pay any royalties. Interestingly, Unity also started offering a subscription model to the Pro version of their engine well over a year ago, IIRC. Curious to see Epic copying them.

The low cost engine options available to indie developers currently is incredible -- when i was just learning to code this was unthinkable.

From my standpoint, the subscription cost thing is a non-issue -- $20/month means it's affordable to someone who doens't have much money and wants to use it to make a serious game.

What seems notable about this news is not the subscription model, but the 5% royalties.  My memory is the royalties they used to have were like 20-30% which I thought was unacceptable. But 5% seems manageable and would make Unreal Engine a viable candidate for an indie team looking for commercial success.

It's definitely more affordable compared to what it was previously. But compared to Unity which already has a free edition with no royalties, or if you need the extra features of the Pro version which is also available on a subscription model (and still has no royalties) then I'm not sure the financial incentive is there to choose Unreal over Unity.

I'd rather work in Unity for free while I save up to purchase the Pro version (if I ever need it) than throw money away on a product that my access to is revoked once I stop making payments. But that's just my opinion.

Each studio will have their own needs and constraints, and a subscription may be wonderful for certain studios. Especially if they're in the habit of hiring people to work on a project for a few months and then firing them when the product ships.

Personally I disagree with the idea of a subscription model. It's better to own your tools than to rent them. If you come up on hard financial times and can't pay rent on your tools, then you can't work to earn more money to pay for your tools. But that's just my opinion.
-Deozaan (March 20, 2014, 12:49 PM)
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However, they clarify something related to this in their FAQ:

When you cancel your subscription, you won’t receive access to future releases of Unreal Engine 4, however your login will remain active, and you are free to continue using the versions of Unreal Engine 4 which you obtained as a subscriber under the terms of the EULA.-
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Unless there's something tricky in their EULA (and it sure seems like they're trying to be very transparent and above board), you can keep using whatever you most recently downloaded when your subscription was active.

So you can pay $20 once and use it indefinitely, then once you have a finished product and you want to publish your game, do so and pay 5% royalties?

EDIT: I checked out the EULA. It's a bit unclear IMO on whether or not you can legally publish a game with an expired subscription. But the royalties bit still scares me off (emphasis added):

4.   Royalty

You agree to pay Epic a royalty equal to 5% of all worldwide gross revenue actually attributable to each Product, regardless of whether such revenue is received by you or any other person or legal entity, as follows:

* Gross revenue resulting from any and all sales of a Product to end users through any and all media, including but not limited to digital and retail;
* Gross revenue resulting from any and all in-app purchases, downloadable content, microtransactions, subscriptions, or redemption of virtual currency, either within a Product or made externally but which directly affect the operation of the Product;
* Gross revenue from any Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign which is directly associated with Product access or in-Product benefit (e.g., in a multi-tiered campaign, if an amount is established in an early tier solely for Product access, your royalty obligation will apply to that amount for each backer with the same access, but not on additional amounts in higher tiers based on ancillary benefits);
* Your revenue from in-app advertising and affiliate programs;
* Revenue from advance payments for a Product (from a publisher or otherwise); and
* Revenue in any other form actually attributable to a Product (unless excluded below).
However, no royalty is owed on the following forms of revenue:

* Revenue from linear media which is distributed in a form that does not contain the Licensed Technology (e.g., broadcast or streamed video files, cartoons, or movies);
* Revenue from ancillary products which are not software and which do not contain embedded information (such as QR codes) which affects the operation of the Product (e.g., comic books, soundtracks, apparel);
* Revenue from interactive amusement park rides or coin-operated arcade games which use the Licensed Technology; and
* Consulting fees or work-for-hire fees which are non-recoupable for services performed using the Licensed Technology (e.g., an architect-created walkthrough simulation or a contractor-developed in-house training simulator).
The royalty is based on gross revenue from end users, regardless of whether you sell your Product to end users directly, self-publish via App Store, or work with a publisher.  The following simplified example illustrates the application of the royalty to gross sales:  if your Product earns $10 on the App Store, Apple may pay you $7 (having deducted 30% as a distribution fee), but your royalty to Epic would still be 5% of $10 (or $0.50).

Royalties that you pay on an advance payment of revenue for a Product that is recoupable by the payer, such as a publisher, may be credited against future royalty payments that you incur under this Agreement for that Product.

Within 45 days after the end of each calendar quarter, you will pay to Epic the full amount of the royalty due for such quarter and send Epic a royalty report on a per Product basis.  Detailed information on royalty reporting and payment can be found at

The royalty will be payable under this Agreement with respect to each Product for as long as any Engine Code (including as modified by you under the License) or Assets incorporated in the Product are protected under copyright or other applicable intellectual property law.-
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