GDC 2014 may end up being known for two things: the continued rise of virtual reality thanks to the new Oculus Rift and Sony’s Project Morpheus, and the shift in licensing fees for high-tech game development engines. Shortly after Epic Games announced a new subscription model for its Unreal Engine 4, Crytek did the same, and offered its new CryEngine for $9.90 per month, nearly $10 less.
Crytek also confirmed that it would charge no royalty fees on any games developed using the engine, but it has not said anything about releasing its source code like Epic did.
Whether Crytek’s announcement was because of Epic’s plans, both announcements were a natural evolution of the license model (that others like Unity already offer, but for a much higher fee), or the timing was just coincidence really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that it is now affordable for almost anyone (as long as they have a powerful computer) to develop and sell their own games. (Well, assuming they can code an Unreal Engine game themselves, or have a team of developers in their garage.)
For Crytek, the company is calling its new program Engine-as-a-Service (EaaS). The subscription model will go live in May, under what Crytek calls the first tier of its new program. No word on what the subsequent tiers may entail. The monthly fee will include “the recently announced addition of CryEngine features such as Physically Based Shading, Geometry Cache and Image Based Lighting.”
Crytek then went on to say it will offer more details in the “near future.” Those that are using the free CryEngine SDK will be able to continue to use it, although the new tools won’t be offered – at least for now – and users still won’t be able to distribute their creations.
The fourth generation of CryEngine was recently used to create Ryse: Son of Rome, as well as several upcoming titles, including Evolve, Homefront 2, and Star Citizen. Crytek is promising that developers will “be able to use all of CryEngine’s cutting-edge features,” but as noted, more details are still coming.
Regardless of what‘s in the details, even if there is a catch, between Epic Games, Crytek, and others like Unity, it has never been easier or more appealing to develop games.