Today’s “State of Unreal” GDC opening session from Epic Games Founder and CEO Tim Sweeney and CTO Kim Libreri revealed Unreal Engine’s growth to 7.5 million licensees and new technology advancements, plus Epic MegaGrants, Epic Online Services, and Epic Games store announcements.
Ray tracing and photorealism in Unreal Engine
Available now in preview with the full release coming within two weeks, Unreal Engine 4.22 is the fastest version of UE4 ever, with reduced compile times and many optimizations and performance upgrades. UE 4.22 ships with features including ray tracing, new Live++ hot reload for live coding, multi-user collaboration in Unreal Editor, Niagara VFX enhancements, Microsoft HoloLens streaming support (with full HoloLens 2 support coming in May), and support for Google’s new Stadia game streaming platform.
Two real-time demonstrations shown during today’s “State of Unreal” showcase new visuals that can be achieved with Unreal Engine:
First, Troll, a real-time short from Goodbye Kansas and Deep Forest Films, features a scene starring a digital princess, fairies and an enchanted crown to demonstrate how ray tracing can create cinematic-quality lighting with complex soft shadows and reflections. Troll was created entirely with Unreal Engine 4.22.
Second, Quixel’s Rebirth short was created by a team of just three artists and highlights use of the studio’s photogrammetry techniques, extensive asset library, and artistry to demonstrate new levels of photorealistic beauty in Unreal Engine. The movie is lit, composed, edited, and rendered entirely in Unreal Engine 4.21, with no custom plugins or code.
Epic Games has launched Epic MegaGrants, committing $100,000,000 to assist game developers, media and entertainment creators, enterprise professionals, students, educators, and tools developers doing work with Unreal Engine or enhancing open-source capabilities for the 3D graphics community. Epic MegaGrants marks an evolution from Epic’s Unreal Dev Grants program, a $5,000,000 fund initially launched in 2015, which awarded its final grants earlier this week.
Epic Online Services
Epic Online Services are free offerings that will make it easier for developers to launch, operate and scale games. Built from Epic’s experience with Fortnite, which has nearly 250 million players, Epic Online Services provides a single SDK that works across any platform, game engine, and store to help developers give their players a unified, cross-platform social experience. In addition to game analytics and the ticketing system, the library of tools includes sentiment analysis, cloud storage, voice communications, and matchmaking. To access the SDK now, visit dev.epicgames.com/services.
Epic Games store
The Epic Games store launched in December 2018 with the goal of achieving a more open, fair, and profitable platform for developers and publishers. It is offering an 88% revenue share, a free game every two weeks, and exclusives. Today Epic announced that the store has grown to 85,000,000 PC players, with its Support-A-Creator program surpassing more than 55,000 creators. Epic also revealed nearly two dozen games coming to the store, along with store performance metrics.
Epic Games is also partnering with Humble Bundle to enable developers to sell their Epic Games store titles on the Humble Store, including Epic store exclusives. Epic will receive no revenue share from the sale of those games purchased through the Humble Store. The partnership will launch with keys redeemable on the Epic Games store, and soon Epic will enable players to link their Epic and Humble accounts for direct purchasing.
Epic Games revealed more than a dozen games, including titles from Deep Silver, Ubisoft, and Take-Two Interactive’s Private Division, will be coming soon to the Epic Games store:
- Following the launch of Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 on the Epic Games store, Ubisoft and the Epic Games store announced an extension to their agreement that will bring several major PC releases to the store in partnership with their Uplay division.
- Additional back catalog titles from Ubisoft are confirmed for Epic’s free games program.
- Take-Two Interactive’s Private Division will bring titles The Outer Worlds from Obsidian Entertainment and Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey from Panache
- Digital Games to the Epic Games store.
- Quantic Dream will bring its portfolio -- Heavy Rain, Beyond: Two Souls, and Detroit: Become Human -- to PC for the first time, exclusively to the store.
Additional games coming exclusively to the Epic Games store include:
- Afterparty from Night School Studios
- Control from Remedy Entertainment and 505 Games
- The Cycle from YAGER
- Dauntless from Phoenix Labs
- Industries of Titan from Brace Yourself Games
- Journey to the Savage Planet from Typhoon Studios and 505 Games
- Kine from Chump Squad
- Phoenix Point from Snapshot Games
- The Sinking City from Frogwares and Bigben
- Spellbreak from Proletariat Inc.
- Solar Ash from Heart Machine and Annapurna Interactive
Epic also revealed that Deep Silver's Metro: Exodus sold more than 2.5 times as many copies in its first few weeks on the Epic Games store in comparison to the previous franchise release (Metro: Last Light) on Steam over the same period of time. In addition, both Subnautica from Unknown Worlds Entertainment and Slime Rancher from Monomi Park each exceeded 4,500,000 downloads in their two-week runs as free offerings on Epic’s store.
Coming Soon to Unreal Engine
Revealed onstage during the “State of Unreal,” Chaos is Unreal Engine’s new high-performance physics and destruction system coming in early access to Unreal Engine 4.23. The real-time tech demo is set within the world of Robo Recall. With Chaos, users can achieve cinematic-quality visuals in real time in scenes with massive-scale levels of destruction, with artist control over content creation. In addition to the initial feature set, Epic will release demo content for Chaos physics and destruction within the 4.23 window.