Epic Games lets anyone use Unreal Engine 4 for $19 a month

Epic Games is letting anyone who wants to make a game with its newest Unreal Engine 4 tools do so right now under a new business model that could make it highly accessible. Today, the company announced that the full version of Unreal Engine 4 can be licensed for a subscription fee of $19 a month, plus 5 percent of revenues generated by any paid product that uses the engine.

Epic Games' announcement means that small indie teams can now access the full version of Unreal Engine 4 without having to spend a ton of money up front; the subscription can be canceled at any time. The engine is already being used by a number of major development studios, including Microsoft's Lionhead for the upcoming Fable Legends.

The release includes the Unreal Editor, with a number of free samples and game templates in its Marketplace, and the full C++ source code, which is hosted on GitHub. Previously, Epic released a version of Unreal Engine 3, called the Unreal Development Kit, that developers could use to release commercial games for a $99 upfront payment, plus 25 percent of the game's royalties if the revenue exceeded a certain amount.

In a statement about their new subscription-revenue business model, Epic said:

If your game makes $1,000,000, then we make $50,000. We realize that’s a lot to ask, and that it would be a crazy proposition unless UE4 enables you to build way better games way more productively than otherwise!

Epic has also released a new video showing off some of the features in Unreal Engine 4, which supports Windows, Mac, iOS and Android platforms, with upcoming support for Linux. The subscription business plan does not apply to games that are being made for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One consoles; developers will have to contact Epic to get more information on using the tools for those platforms. Earlier this week, Epic and Mozilla jointly announced that Unreal Engine 4 can be supported for web browser-based games using HTML 5.

Epic recently sold off its Gears of War game franchise to Microsoft for an undisclosed amount. The company has only announced plans for one upcoming game, the action-strategy title Fortnite, and has not offered much in the way of updates for the game since it was first revealed over two years ago.

Source: Epic Games | Image via Epic Games

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Unreal tournament oh please oh please.

I miss the first one so much. I enjoyed it so much more than quake 3 due to the mods like freeze tag and the extra maps people made like the big bathroom while you are an ant in it etc.

UT 2003/4 meh I never really played it that much and didn't like it.

But I could use one similar to the 1999. So disappointed it was not compatible with Vista/7 :-(

sinetheo said,
Unreal tournament oh please oh please.

I miss the first one so much. I enjoyed it so much more than quake 3 due to the mods like freeze tag and the extra maps people made like the big bathroom while you are an ant in it etc.

UT 2003/4 meh I never really played it that much and didn't like it.

But I could use one similar to the 1999. So disappointed it was not compatible with Vista/7 :-(

what are you talking about? i do play UT99 in my windows 8.1 laptop...although it do have to make some tweeks because the framerate just skyrockets.

There is compatibility fixes for UT. Get OpenGL renderer, and set UT to run on 1 CPU to try to fix the speed issue. The actual problem is speed step and CPU speed ramping up and down and I thought I fixed that by setting it to a single cpu.

I run UT99 on Windows 7 and 8 with the OpenGL render and it works perfectly, no framerate problems or rendering issues.

yep that's what i do; i've played on a different box with Windows 7 and i haven't experienced any problems, so it depends the CPU used.

I know there's a bit of an issue with CPU parking with some 8 core AMD processors on Windows 7 but I thought a hotfix for that had been released ages ago?

_Alexander said,
So, if a group of people would want to make a free to play Unreal Engine 4 game, it would be $20 a month?

It appears it would be $20/month/per seat and when you or a group of people publish a game for sale they would take 5% of your gross revenue. If you do not want to pay a royalty or want other changes it appears they are able to do a custom quote for you. My guess if you have a large amount of capital and you are the sole developer or have multiple developers they can probably quote you for a floating or fixed seat license for a perpetual license + annual support, or a monthly subscription on seat.

A really good deal, even the 5% of profits. That's so much cheaper than developing something in house, that's for sure. Not having to reinvent the wheel will also likely lead to less bugs and performance problems, since the engine is already mature. This can potentially give the game a better reputation, better reviews, and happier gamers, more sales.

They should make a free-edition for home brews, requiring no subscription fee and 5% of revenues/donations in the advent you take in any money from it...

The reason is that if you essentially don't make it anywhere with the engine, you don't have to pay, and it gets it into the hands of people who might not otherwise be able to afford the $240 yearly fees so they can fool around with it. For any purpose, including charity, non-profits, and even trying to make a product worth selling, or educational uses, or simply trying it out for fun.

nullie said,
They should make a free-edition for home brews, requiring no subscription fee and 5% of revenues/donations in the advent you take in any money from it...

The reason is that if you essentially don't make it anywhere with the engine, you don't have to pay, and it gets it into the hands of people who might not otherwise be able to afford the $240 yearly fees so they can fool around with it. For any purpose, including charity, non-profits, and even trying to make a product worth selling, or educational uses, or simply trying it out for fun.

Honestly, $20 a month is cheap for quality developer tools...

It is small enough to allow hobbyists, but sufficient enough to ensure they collect the information needed to ensure they get the 5% agreed upon.

nullie said,
They should make a free-edition for home brews, requiring no subscription fee and 5% of revenues/donations in the advent you take in any money from it...

The reason is that if you essentially don't make it anywhere with the engine, you don't have to pay, and it gets it into the hands of people who might not otherwise be able to afford the $240 yearly fees so they can fool around with it. For any purpose, including charity, non-profits, and even trying to make a product worth selling, or educational uses, or simply trying it out for fun.

20$ per month for a very good quality engine? where you can get that for less then? oh yeah, you can't. And not only is cheap enough for a decent software house but it allows the indie devs to have access for good tools without killing the wallet. I've used the UDK 3 and it was really good, can't wait to use this new one.

I know but they really aren't going to make a lot of money off those fees. They are getting the rewards from the 5% chunk from the big on the self games, and games on Steam.

It's just enough to put it out of reach of community devs who can't afford $20 a month just to make some crappy game for their friends to do free-to-play.

It would be about making this the defacto free engine for community devs, creating tons of free content, making their stuff available for free without charge.

Of course it's Epic's idea to make it available for so cheap and I cannot imagine why they don't just make the plunge and give it out for free + 5% of earnings if any money is made. I am telling you that this would make everyone turn first to this for all their game making and 3D game learning needs, making them more profit if they didn't charge the $20/mo if it made the community more robust.

nullie said,
I know but they really aren't going to make a lot of money off those fees. They are getting the rewards from the 5% chunk from the big on the self games, and games on Steam.

It's just enough to put it out of reach of community devs who can't afford $20 a month just to make some crappy game for their friends to do free-to-play.

It would be about making this the defacto free engine for community devs, creating tons of free content, making their stuff available for free without charge.

Of course it's Epic's idea to make it available for so cheap and I cannot imagine why they don't just make the plunge and give it out for free + 5% of earnings if any money is made. I am telling you that this would make everyone turn first to this for all their game making and 3D game learning needs, making them more profit if they didn't charge the $20/mo if it made the community more robust.

Remember, they are free to cancel the sub any time they want, so once they reach a release to public stage and cease development on their mods they will no longer need to pay for the license.

nullie said,
I know but they really aren't going to make a lot of money off those fees. They are getting the rewards from the 5% chunk from the big on the self games, and games on Steam.

It's just enough to put it out of reach of community devs who can't afford $20 a month just to make some crappy game for their friends to do free-to-play.

It would be about making this the defacto free engine for community devs, creating tons of free content, making their stuff available for free without charge.

Of course it's Epic's idea to make it available for so cheap and I cannot imagine why they don't just make the plunge and give it out for free + 5% of earnings if any money is made. I am telling you that this would make everyone turn first to this for all their game making and 3D game learning needs, making them more profit if they didn't charge the $20/mo if it made the community more robust.

The Unreal Engine is one of the top game engines for professional games and with enough subscribers there is a large amount of money that they can bring in on a regular bases monthly, quarterly, and annual for gross revenue in addition too the 5% royalty they receive if a game makes a sale. The csv data I have posted below shows an estimate of how much they could gain with the monthly fee or not take in if it were for free without taking into account the 5% royalty.

The estimate below is for users are paying the $20/month subscription without the 5% gross revenue royalty ( The following is in csv format ):

Product,Cost Per Subscription,Subscribers,Gross Revenue Per Month,Gross Rev. Per Quarter,Gross Rev. Per Year
Unreal Engine,$20.00," 2,500 ","$50,000.00","$150,000.00","$600,000.00"
,$20.00," 5,000 ","$100,000.00","$300,000.00","$1,200,000.00"
,$20.00," 10,000 ","$200,000.00","$600,000.00","$2,400,000.00"
,$20.00," 25,000 ","$500,000.00","$1,500,000.00","$6,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 150,000 ","$3,000,000.00","$9,000,000.00","$36,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 250,000 ","$5,000,000.00","$15,000,000.00","$60,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 750,000 ","$15,000,000.00","$45,000,000.00","$180,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 1,000,000 ","$20,000,000.00","$60,000,000.00","$240,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 1,250,000 ","$25,000,000.00","$75,000,000.00","$300,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 1,500,000 ","$30,000,000.00","$90,000,000.00","$360,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 2,000,000 ","$40,000,000.00","$120,000,000.00","$480,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 2,500,000 ","$50,000,000.00","$150,000,000.00","$600,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 3,000,000 ","$60,000,000.00","$180,000,000.00","$720,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 4,000,000 ","$80,000,000.00","$240,000,000.00","$960,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 5,000,000 ","$100,000,000.00","$300,000,000.00","$1,200,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 6,000,000 ","$120,000,000.00","$360,000,000.00","$1,440,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 7,000,000 ","$140,000,000.00","$420,000,000.00","$1,680,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 8,000,000 ","$160,000,000.00","$480,000,000.00","$1,920,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 9,000,000 ","$180,000,000.00","$540,000,000.00","$2,160,000,000.00"
,$20.00," 10,000,000 ","$200,000,000.00","$600,000,000.00","$2,400,000,000.00"
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Praetor said,
20$ per month for a very good quality engine? where you can get that for less then? oh yeah, you can't.
No idea how good it is but doesn't Unity have a free version? I think nullie was talking about something like that.

the free version of UDK still requires for a payment of 99$ upfront if one wants to sell the game made with it and 25% of revenue if it passes the 50k mark; this new model requires less effort since it's diluted per month and less lost revenue since it passes from 25% to 5%.

Also for academic and learning: one just has to pay the 19$ per month (either the student of the school, see the licensing in the unreal site for more info) and it's subscription, so one can quit whenever they wanted; people don't forget that you can make not only games with this tool but a commercially applications, so for an company this is a steal deal; for a solo developer this is a pretty good deal and alouds that same developer to get more revenue and for the teachers / students this gives them the necessary tools for a fraction of the cost.