High-end engine will now be free to use for all users, as will all future updates
Epic Games has announced its powerful Unreal Engine 4 technology will now be free for anyone to use.
There will be no limits on what the game engine can be used for, whether it's games development, education, architecture or visualisation, and all future updates will also be free.
The royalty fee – five per cent on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter – will remain.
"It's a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed," Epic co-founder Tim Sweeney said on the Unreal blog.
"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 per cent 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."
Epic Games will be issuing a pro-rated refund to current subscribers for their most recent month's payment. Anyone that has ever paid for a UE4 subscription will also receive $30 of credit that can be spent in the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
"This news comes during an unprecedented time in our industry, amidst revolutions in virtual reality and augmented reality, and in the presence of the largest community of indie developers that has ever existed, all facing a crowded market and seeking the opportunity to stand out from the crowd," Sweeney added.
"Yet in Epic's 25 years as an independent company, we have seen no time of greater opportunity for developers than today. Whatever your development aspirations, Epic stands with you, both as a technology provider, and as a fellow game developer counting on UE4 to power our own games."
Last year, Sweeney told Develop he wanted to make Unreal Engine appeal to creative consumers, such as Minecraft players, as well as game developers. Making the engine free is definitely a step in the right direction when it comes to consumer appeal.
You can find out more about Unreal Engine at Epic Games' booth – No.1024 – at the GDC Expo.
For more GDC 2015 news, head to www.develop-online.net/gdc