When you’re playing the latest games, do you ever think to yourself: “I could do better”? Crytek wants you to put your money where your mouth is. Specifically, $10 per month, which is the new subscription fee for CryEngine, the development software that powers countless major games like Far Cry, Crysis, and the upcoming Evolve. The software, previously only available for a hefty licensing fee, can now be purchased on Steam at a rate much more encouraging to amateur developers.
The monthly fee will allow for unlimited access to the latest CryEngine build, including the Sandbox editor, which lets you produce, edit, and play your games seamlessly, providing instant feedback on your project as it develops. Assets are instantly optimized for all platforms, allowing easy development for multiple systems.
Notably, this radically undercuts Epic Games’ announcement from the Game Developer’s Conference earlier this year, that the company’s competing Unreal Engine 4 would be available for a monthly subscription of $19, plus a 5% royalty on any games sold. By offering a subscription rate almost half of Epic’s and with no royalties attached, Crytek clearly wants to be the engine of choice for amateur developers.
Steam already supports a strong community of developers with Valve’s own Source engine and a host of other tools in its growing software section, as well as the Steam Workshop, which provides a framework for developers and modders to easily share content. Combined with the already-strong community and documentation for CryEngine, Steam can now provide everything you need to create and then distribute a AAA-quality game of your own making.
In conjunction with the general rise of indie developers and the increasing popularity of early access development, this signals a larger trend of game development’s center of gravity shifting away from the walled enclosure of “professional” developers and towards the playing public at large. Cheaper, easier-to-use technology, combined with the knowledge sharing and distribution capabilities of the Internet, has already been a powerful, democratizing force in traditional media such as writing, film, and photography, blurring the distinction between creator and consumer. It is only natural to expect a similar loosening of roles in gaming, and this can only be good for the hobby.
Simple statistics dictate that more people making more games will lead to a greater likelihood of exceptional work happening; our own Game of the Year from 2013 was Gone Home, which came from a small team of ex-AAAers. Sure, the vast majority of what people create will be garbage, but this is substantially true of game development already (and creative work in general, when all is said and done). Experience can counterintuitively be very limiting to a creator’s imagination. This has been especially true in video games as the lion’s share of progress has been towards graphical enhancement and iteration of tested ideas, rather than exploring new types of gameplay. Blowing open the field of game development to a wider range of perspectives is the best way to find the games we don’t even know that we want yet.