By Jen Carman on March 2, 2015 at 10:44pm
"Unreal Engine 4 is now available to everyone for free, and all future updates will be free!"
Tim Sweeney, Epic Games
So it is written.
Unreal Engine has integrated itself in to all sorts of virtual reality and graphics immersion communities, from NASA and military training simulators to an ever-growing list of the latest PC and console games. The gaming engine is powerful, customizable, and now, more accessible than ever.
On March 18, 2014, the new Unreal Engine 4 was released for $19/month and a 5% royalty fee, an attempt to give game developers one more reason to choose Unreal over the other game engines on the market. The next day Crytek announced that their game engine, CryEngine, would be available for $9.90/month and royalty free. Touche.
For the rest of 2014 Epic kept its pay-to-use subscription in place and released "7 major updates and more than a dozen minor updates." On March 2, 2015, Epic Games presumably reached the point in their development of Unreal Engine 4 where they feel that its tools and code are ready for broader dispersal.
"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."
With your free download of Unreal Engine 4, you will receive access to all of the on-board tools, all of the original C++ source code, and a fully functioning and thriving online community.
Those who have been paying for a subscription to UE4 will receive a prorated refund for the month of March and will also be given a $30 credit on the Unreal Engine Marketplace.
Below is a quick run-through of Unreal Engine 4's tools. This video was posted at the original release of UE4 and at the end, Zak Parrish (a Senior Tech Writer at Epic Games) mentions the old subscription rates - but just disregard that bit. Past-Zak is no longer correct.
And now for a little bit of everything...