Epic Games has announced a free PC edition of the Unreal Development Kit, also allowing non-commercial Unreal Engine 3 games to be released for free and detailing new royalty-based engine licensing.
The free tools, which Epic call the Unreal Development Kit, is available to anyone with interest in exploring 3D game technology, from professionals to students and hobbyists. Those users will also have access to documentation and resources on an official website
-- which also offers information on how to license UE3 commercially.
Developers can now release UE3-powered games for free, which will be particularly popular with non-commercial mod projects.
However, creators will still need to obtain an official licensing agreement to develop a commercial project using UE3; according to the new licensing terms
, Epic receives twenty-five percent of revenue after the first $5,000 is made, with a per-seat yearly fee also potentially applying if the project is solely used internally.
Currently, the free kit is only offered to PC users, although Epic says console support is "under consideration." It's intended as a tool for experimentation and hands-on learning.
Epic says the UDK is up to date and in step with the commercial version of Unreal Engine 3, including all its latest upgrades and features. The company promises to continue to support UDK users by offering ongoing, updated builds for free.
According to the company, Unreal development technology is already in use at over 100 schools where game development-related courses are taught, and other universities, like the Art Institutes, DeVry University and the University of Pennsylvania, among others, plan to incorporate the tech into their curricula.
"I’m excited about the possibilities the Unreal Development Kit opens to those who are looking to get into the game business but don’t otherwise have the means to acquire world-class technology and tools like ours," says Epic VP Mark Rein.
"UDK is Unreal Engine 3, which has been used to create games in a wide range of genres, as well as military simulations, 3D architectural walkthroughs, animated movies and more. Users are only limited by their imaginations. Go ahead make something Unreal!"
: Information on new Unreal Engine licensing structure added.]