If you have been a serious gamer for a long time, you will certainly know the name Unreal Engine. If you have been around even longer, you will probably remember the games Unreal and Unreal Tournament, for which the engine was named and developed by Epic. You probably are also aware that the engine is one of the most popular for many AAA titles for Windows, Xbox, PlayStation and mobile.
Now, it's not to say that the engine has not had interest from smaller developers, but its licensing costs were such that only the top-tier developers could afford to work with it. The world of gaming is changing, however, with small developers completely owning the mobile gaming space, leaving the big guys out in the cold completely. With the increase in indie games' successes comes a collection of new indie-focused tools, like Unity.
Unity is a platform which allows you to develop a videogame using their gaming engine and deploy it to all of the usual suspects. While Unity has a tremendous amount of potential, it is no Unreal Engine. As it turns out, Epic has recognized that there is a need for a product of their caliber in the smaller market space and has decided to fill that need themselves.
Available right now to early adopters who are interested in trying out the new release of the engine, Unreal Engine is available to any developer for $19/month and 5% revenue share. This is a very different revenue model compared with Unity, which, to license the platform for Windows, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, iOS and Android runs $225/month, but has no revenue sharing requirement. Epic, on the other hand, is really counting on their developers to release games of value.
Personally, as a developer, I like that these different companies are experimenting with different pricing models. The up-front cost of developing any application is very high, and the ability to cut down that cost, even by forfeiting future revenues, can be attractive to start-ups. Our sister company, Sumo Software has been in this very situation several times, and we have offered the Unreal model versus the Unity model successfully.
If any of our readers are currently developing a game with either Unity or Unreal Engine, let us know in the comments.