Epic Games has announced that Unreal Engine 4 is free, with anyone being able to download and use it.
The download features the set of tools used by Epic, and also includes the 100% of the C++ source-code. Future updates will be added at no additional cost. This is last in a series of attempts to take some indie developers away from Unity.
"You can download the engine and use it for everything from game development, education, architecture, and visualization to VR, film and animation. When you ship a game or application, you pay a 5% royalty on gross revenue after the first $3,000 per product, per quarter. It’s a simple arrangement in which we succeed only when you succeed." said Epic's founder Tim Sweeney.
What this means is that Epic will only take 5% cut from the gross revenue beyond the first $3000, per product, per quarter. This move allows indie developers to gain access to all tools available, and not have to pay anything beforehand. It's a step forward from last year's $19-per month subscription service.
Unreal also promises developers access to forums, wiki and marketplace, where they can trade their work for other devs to use. In addition, video tutorials, documentation and templates will also be available for download.
"The past year has been a whirlwind for everyone at Epic Games. Our community has grown tremendously. The quality and variety of creative work being done has been breathtaking. When we asked people to submit their projects to be shown this year at GDC, we had the challenge of picking just 8 from over 100 finalists that were all good enough to show.
"The state of Unreal is strong, and we've realized that as we take away barriers, more people are able to fulfill their creative visions and shape the future of the medium we love. That's why we're taking away the last barrier to entry, and going free."
According to Sweeney, for those who already paid for UE4 subscriptions, the company will offer a $30 Unreal-Engine Marketplace credit.
A number of AAA titles are using Unreal Engine 4, including Dead Island 2, Fable Legends, Kingdom Hearts II and the first-person experience Adrift. However, it seems that many indie developers still flock to Unity, even though Unreal Engine is a very flexible tool to have. Now with it being free, there are even less hurdles stopping developers from potentially creating great things.