Epic Games has stepped up its efforts to turn its Unreal Engine into a de facto industry standard with the announcement that schools, colleges and universities will be able to download and use the engine completely free of charge.
In the early days of computing, games were typically written as one-off efforts. Soon, developers and publishers realised that they could take the code written for one game and turn it into another - swapping out wild west graphics for sci-fi graphics, for example - and soon after that realised they could sell these frameworks to other developers. Thus was born the game engine: a platform on which you can quickly build your own game without having to reinvent the wheel.
Epic's Unreal Engine is one of the most popular game engines on the market, but the company clearly believes it could do better. Using the traditional tactic of 'catch 'em young,' the company has decided to allow educational establishments to use its latest Unreal Engine 4 free of charge - hoping to incubate a generation of graduates who are intimately familiar with, and therefore more likely to choose, Unreal Engine.
'Epic Games is committed to supporting students and schools, and helping companies that license Unreal Engine 4 find and hire qualified developers. So, starting now, Unreal Engine 4 is free to use for colleges and universities,
' the company explained in its announcement. 'The engine can be installed and used on all school owned computers, and personal copies can be provided free of charge to all students enrolled in accredited video game development, computer science, art, architecture, simulation, and visualisation programs.
Those using Unreal Engine under the academic licence will receive the same updates as subscribers without the need to pay a $19 a month fee, Epic has added. Should a student or establishment choose to release a commercial product based around the engine, however, the same five per cent royalty payments will apply as with any other Unreal Engine licensee.
Details of the offer are available on the official website