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Epic releases Unreal Engine 4.1, including PlayStation 4, Xbox One support
Epic releases Unreal Engine 4.1, including PlayStation 4, Xbox One support
April 24, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

For the first time since the company first made it available by subscription last month, Epic Games has released an Unreal Engine 4 update.

Subscribers can download version 4.1 today, which includes support for SteamOS and Linux, as well as its "Elemental" demo reel now included -- and refactored to work with the current version of the engine. It also includes new templates for both C++ and Blueprint visual scripting projects, refinements to Android and iOS workflows, and a number of other, smaller improvements.

Console Update

Bigger news is that, starting with version 4.1, registered PlayStation and ID@Xbox developers will be able to directly download the engine code to allow them to develop their games on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. This was not possible in the initial release due to restrictions set by the console manufacturers.

On the Xbox side, this code is "the same as Black Tusk is using to build the next Gears of War," says Epic's technical director Mike Fricker.

While the company still has to verify that developers are authorized before releasing the code, "we continue to work with those guys at Microsoft and Sony to make that a completely automated process," says Unreal Engine general manager Ray Davis.

The engine has also gone through certification on the PlayStation side, Davis tells Gamasutra: "Developers that are on Unreal Engine 4, when they do a test pass, they know they don't have to worry about compliance on the underlying technology." The engine is still in testing with Microsoft but the company hopes to have completed its certification soon, too.

Epic also hopes to fully integrate the console build options for the engine into future releases, Davis says. Right now what developers for those consoles download is "the same version of the engine," he says. "It's just a little bits that sit on top of that, and in our future releases we want to make it the same."

"It's really important to us that there's just one version of the engine," says Fricker.

Live Source Access

Epic is also launching Live Source Access, which means that developers will be able to download even the most up-to-the-minute, "bleeding edge" code from the GitHub repository, says Fricker.

Developers will be able to choose between several versions of the engine. There's the "official" release -- 4.1, in this case -- which is "what we recommend for any serious development," says Fricker. There are "QA smoke-tested" preview builds of new versions, which are guaranteed to "for the most part, work." But you can also grab "the latest code" from GitHub and compile it yourself, Fricker says, starting today.

The engine's launcher allows you to select which versions of the engine you work with, so developers can "experiment," says Davis. The option will help prevent it from "breaking their existing projects," he says, while offering flexibility.

Fricker also notes that Epic is "blown away" by "how quickly and how many people have jumped in" and started modifying the engine since its source code initially became available to subscribers.

The company's goal, he says, is to "keep our discussions out in the open, keep all our code out in the open," so Epic and developers "can be in perfect sync." His hope is that developers will "contribute to our discussions and contribute code back to us."

The full list of changes in 4.1 can be found at Epic's site.

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Chris Book
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It's not exactly true that this is the first update, there have been a couple minor releases in between. But this is one of the first substantial updates.

Christian Nutt
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That's true. It also makes sense, given the new method of distribution. But it's the first point release, for sure. Should have been more careful in my phrasing. =)

Sergio Rosa
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I am a little confused by this (well, a lot). If you use UE and you want to bring the game to consoles, you need to pay *a lot* for console licenses (I'm using UDK for our current game and the reason why I don't bring the game to consoles is that UE3 for consoles is very expensive).

I don't get if they mean now ANYONE can develop and publish (or even self-publish) games on next-gen consoles using UE4, or if anyone can develop games for next-gen consoles, but you still need to pay for the expensive licenses before releasing the game. After all, the UE custon license page is still up, and their FAQ still states "you need to have that conversation with us" when it comes to console development. A little help here :(

Christian Nutt
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Sorry, didn't catch this earlier (if you're still paying attention!) You definitely need to be a licensed developer, and Epic has to verify that before releasing the code to you. It was not possible to be a console developer and get the console-specific code via the subscription service prior to this -- you had to negotiate directly with Epic to get access to the engine.