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Reasoning behind UDK?

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    Reasoning behind UDK?

    When I heard that Epic would be releasing a free version of the Unreal Engine 3 for anyone to use in developing their own games, I was excited; many of the games I've enjoyed most in the past few years were created with that engine (Bioshock is probably my favorite game of all time), so seeing it become freely available to aspiring developers is wonderful news.

    And the more I got to thinking about it, the cleverer and cleverer a marketing strategy it seems.

    Unreal Engine 4 is, or will shortly, be under serious development, perhaps for deployment within the next four years or so (I'm guessing here, no data to back this up); it will be designed for next-generation hardware and will probably sport a number of features not capable on today's computers or game consoles.

    However, the development tools will probably be very similar to what is presently available in the UE3 and more specifically, within the UDK; what a brilliant strategy! Epic releases the UDK for free to the public, so anyone wanting to make a non-commercial title is free to do so; this gets the engine into the maximum number of hands as possible. I hear there have been more than 50,000 downloads of the UDK so far--not all of those 50,000 people will become talented developers, obviously, but I suspect that there will grow around the UDK a very, very large mod support group.

    (Think of Valve's Source wiki--the information contained therein is a wealth of information for creating a mod for the Source engine. Now think of what the UDK could achieve, when it not only allows for creation of mods--but of full commercial titles! The incentive of weekend map-makers then shifts a little, when they have the ability to make a buck off their work.)

    This is also healthy for the game industry--by giving such power to end-users to create content for themselves, pro game companies will be able to see just what people really want. The release of this engine onto the amateur and enthusiast developers could mean a lot, provided that the indie teams learn it well. Even something as simple as Whizzle is fun to play--now imagine lots of indie devs creating something similar with more levels. I can see PopCap snagging this up like crazy!

    But that brings me to another idea--if the UDK was released to "prep" people for the Unreal Engine 4, then what about when UE4 finally rolls around?

    It would be the absolute BEST strategic move in Epic's history if they released a version of the UE4 as they did with the UDK; so long as you use it for non-commercial titles, it's free to use, with an option on licensing if that's what you want to pursue. More people would be using the tech, experienced users would help the newbies, and the number of potentially great titles goes up.

    (Perhaps here I'm being optimistic--but I sincerely hope that the future of gamers will lay in the hands of gamers, and not in the hands of businessmen. Yearly titles eventually stagnate. Look at Madden! Those games used to be fun, but now it's the same game every year with a new roster and maybe one new feature. It's happening to Guitar Hero, too.)

    So: If anyone at Epic sees this, forward the message to Mark Rein. Releasing the UE4 as "UDK 2.0" or something would be a boon for the company. 50,000 people on the UDK so far is nothing to scoff at!

    #2
    Getting up and coming gave developers like myself into using the Unreal3 engine was definitly one of their primary reasons, I'm sure. But one of the other reasons I believe is the fact that the Unity engine became free not that long ago and Epic would rather give their engine away for free, at least to an extent, then lose potential customers.

    Don't get me wrong though, I'm all for the Unreal3 engine being released 3, I love it.

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      #3
      25% of revenue over 5k basically means if anyone does actually put together something that people are going to buy, that Epic gets a substantial cut.

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        #4
        This is marketing genius.
        Now, it is the engine for indie development.
        This move should result in a market share of the video game market. (in a year or so, what percentage of games made will be made with this engine)
        So, yes, Epic Game's next Unreal engine will dominate any and all competitors, unless they quickly follow suit now with a similar offer to confuse the masses during this conversion rush. Only time will tell if the other big engines will offer a DK with an affordable commercial license. (the percentage thing is rock solid)

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          #5
          There can only be two reasons for me to move to another engine (and note: i have license's for alot of 1000's of $ of engines) and that is :

          1) UDK for Unreal Engine 4 comes out.
          2) CryEngine 3 DK comes out with same terms and using speedtree (would be sweet if also scaleform was included, this goes for UDK aswell ofcourse).

          There, just wished this came out long ago, before i spend 1000's of $ on other engines that end up being dud's..

          BTW : 75% of something, is more then 100% of nothing

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            #6
            The reason for the UDK is pretty simple - it was a gap in the developer story.

            If you break the developer market into roughly four categories, it makes a lot of sense.

            Modders
            Small indies (guy moonlighting)
            "Pro" indies (full time staff)
            AAA

            Unreal has had good stories for modders and the AAA folks from day one... recently they appear to have gotten more aggressive around the large indies (see the number of indie titles that are obviously out of the typical license fees touted for the unreal engine).

            What that leaves is the small indies - the guys doing stuff on the weekends that hopes to sell games someday, but is likely limited in what he can do. That guy might use UT3 to start... but... he can't sell it. He doesn't have a clear way to make the jump from the modding level to the "pro indie" level with unreal, so he goes with something like Torque or Unity, or even rolls his own.

            Now, he's not a big market, and doesn't have a lot of cash. But the danger is that he turns into a pro indie (or better), and continues to use Torque/Unity/whatever at that level. Look at the Penny Arcade guys - a great example of this. And what if one of those companies goes AAA? Now you've got another engine out with AAA credentials... not good for Epic.

            With the UDK, Epic closes the loop. They now have a complete development story from the first tentative modding steps all the way to the next blockbuster. It doesn't cost them too much, as they're basically giving out a stripped-down version of UT3. And, due to the ridiculously low cost, they gain community goodwill.

            As a bonus, it can potentially help revitalize the dying PC game market, which can only help Epic in the long run.

            It's an incredibly smart move.

            And if they get a couple bucks in license fees? That's gravy.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Blade[UG] View Post
              25% of revenue over 5k basically means if anyone does actually put together something that people are going to buy, that Epic gets a substantial cut.
              Keep in mind that it's 25% royalties per project, not per seat.

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                #8
                Originally posted by Piranhi View Post
                But one of the other reasons I believe is the fact that the Unity engine became free not that long ago and Epic would rather give their engine away for free, at least to an extent, then lose potential customers
                No. UDK has been in the works for a long, long time. You don't scramble at the last minute to release something this big as a reactionary business move. The version of SpeedTree is custom for UDK. Just the contracts between Epic and IDV (makers of SpeedTree) alone take weeks to get worked out. Press releases are done weeks in advance by artists and have to be discussed with and approved by all companies who will have their logos or products mentioned in them. Anyway - you get the picture. This release had a lot of momentum behind it.

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                  #9
                  Originally posted by kyoryu View Post
                  Keep in mind that it's 25% royalties per project, not per seat.
                  So lets say i have 10 small and silly games done in UDK, each nets me average 100$ income. Do I pay per game basis, or for total income? What if i decide to give those games for free and ask for website donations instead?

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                    #10
                    Total income from all projects, is the way I interpreted the license.

                    As for donations - that's part of your revenue, so it includes that.

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                      #11
                      Originally posted by Nawrot View Post
                      So lets say i have 10 small and silly games done in UDK, each nets me average 100$ income. Do I pay per game basis, or for total income? What if i decide to give those games for free and ask for website donations instead?
                      Think about that a second. If you make 100 dollars per game. And make 10 games. It would be 1000 dollars. If you had to pay 25% of total income, you would have to pay 250 dollars. If it was per game, you would have to pay 25 per game. 25 X 10 = 250. -.- It would be exactly the same...

                      But this example doesnt even apply anyways because the first $5000 you make is royalty free.

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                        #12
                        Originally posted by Nawrot View Post
                        So lets say i have 10 small and silly games done in UDK, each nets me average 100$ income. Do I pay per game basis, or for total income? What if i decide to give those games for free and ask for website donations instead?
                        It's 25% on income over $5000, so that doesn't apply.

                        And sure, this may become a highly coveted PC game engine, but it doesn't help anyone on any other platforms, which are significant places to be these days.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by Nawrot View Post
                          So lets say i have 10 small and silly games done in UDK, each nets me average 100$ income. Do I pay per game basis, or for total income? What if i decide to give those games for free and ask for website donations instead?
                          If they net you $100 each your below the $5000 mark and thus do not need to pay at all. Donations are considered a part of your revenue, I believe, so you would have to pay on them. Either way they are giving you the tools to make something in MUCH less time then it would otherwise take. So its not THAT bad of a deal.

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                            #14
                            If I understand Epic's terms correctly, then they will claim 25% of all revenue generated from any commercialized project utilizing the UDK, provided that the product attains over $5,000 total revenue, right? But over what period of time? Imagine if a game came out and it amassed $5,000, but after five years? Not likely, but possible; or imagine a likelier scenario, where that money is generated after one year for a "big" indie game?

                            But what interests me most is seeing how the indie devs will utilize the UDK. I'm thinking we're going to see lots of "little" games--think of things along the lines of Penny-Arcade Adventures, or Shadow Complex, or Undertow (got this free from Microsoft a summer years back, was addicted for two months). The engine can be scaled to large or small environments--hell, even something like Whizzle could be a commercial success.

                            This will be great for indies provided they don't try to reach longer than their arms.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I also imagine that 'bigger indies' can probably negotiate a license that may be more favorable at their level (but would be inappropriate for the guy in a garage).

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