News from the video game industry for the week of February 15
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista gather together a selection of notable news from the world of gaming into one post. In this week's Weekly Game Replay, we talk about Epic Games fostering development by providing $5 million in grants to Unreal Engine 4 projects, Twitch announcing its first convention, and the revelation Kanye West is making a game.
Source code for next Unreal Tournament will be viewable on GitHub throughout development
Epic Games is developing the next edition of Unreal Tournament openly, and will be free, the game producer has announced. The development team will be making code and content for the first person shooter freely accessible to interested parties, and plans a "collaboration between Epic, UT fans, and UE4 (Unreal Engine 4) developers."
Price undercuts recent announcement for Unreal Engine 4 from Epic Games
Not to be outdone by Epic Games, game developer Crytek has announced a new pricing plan for its CryEngine called an "Engine -as-a-Service" (EaaS) program for developers. The program consists of a $10 license fee per month that is royalty-free. This undercuts Epic Game's recent announcement that it would price its Unreal Engine 4 at $19 per month, with a five percent royalty on gross revenues.
Monthly fee, royalty payments a vast change from previous Unreal Engine licensing scheme
Epic Games is updating the way it charges for access to its game technology, by offering Unreal Engine 4 for a monthly fee. Instead of making an arrangement to pay potentially millions of dollars for the engine's use in a game, Epic is instead providing it for a subscription of $19 per month, as well as a five-percent cut of royalties from gross revenues.
Future Gears of War titles to be developed by Microsoft's Black Tusk
Epic Games has revealed that the sci-fi first person shooter Gears of War has been acquired by Microsoft studios. The deal gives Microsoft the rights to all the existing titles, as well as future games and other assets -- including merchandising associated with the property. Microsoft studio Black Tusk, helmed by ex-Epic Games director Rod Fergusson, will assume development of the franchise, with an anticipated announcement about the franchise future later this year. No terms of the deal have been made public.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has said that its Infinity Blade franchise on iOS is its most profitable gaming title ever. According to the Sweeney, in terms of investment to profit, Infinity Blade even beats out its hugely successful Gears of War franchise. Sweeney made the comments at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in Taipei today where he also told the audience that the performance of smartphones and tablets has been outpacing Moore's Law in the past few years, while freemium games are the future.
App Store, Infinity Blade now ultra high res
Last-minute prep for the new iPad's North American launch has seen Apple create a new sub-section (App Store) for the new iPad. The new sub-section, just known as "Great Apps for the new iPad," currently includes about two dozen apps optimized for the new iPad's much higher-resolution screen. Among the examples are Flight Control Rocket, Sketchbook Pro, and Tweetbot.
Demo shows Unreal Engine 4
Epic Games has reportedly run its "Samaritan" Unreal Engine 3 graphics demonstration on a single NVIDIA Kepler card. The same tech demonstration last year required three of NVIDIA's high-end GTX580 cards to run at equivalent speed, showcasing the power of the company's latest graphics hardware.
Epic Games pushes for faster PS4 and next Xbox
Epic Games is concerned that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony might let Apple take over in gaming by being too conservative with their hardware, the developer's VP Mark Rein said in a discussion this week at the Game Developer Conference. The Bulletstorm and Gears of War creator told CVG his company was "constantly pushing" hardware designers to make high-end systems to give a clear incentive to pick their systems over what Apple makes. Rein liked Apple, but he didn't want TV gaming to disappear by eroding the gap in experiences.
Support for Mac lagging behind PC, consoles, iOS
Epic Games has released a new beta of the Unreal Development Kit, at last bringing Unreal Engine 3 game creation to the Mac. The current iteration of the Unreal engine is a gaming industry standard, used by many major titles like Batman: Arkham Asylum and Epic's own Gears of War series. Until now, though, the UDK has been Windows-centric, regardless of the target platform.
Epic Games sees iPhone catching future game rigs
The performance of the iPhone and other smartphones is growing rapidly enough that they might obviate the need for a future Xbox or other consoles, Epic Games' president Mike Capps opined in an interview late this week. Apple's hardware was accelerating fast enough that it was likened for Industry Gamers to the problems with hardware spread that previously affected just computers. At the rate smartphones like these were developing, developers not only had to hit a moving target but might see the speed advance quickly enough that phones could replace consoles.
Sega Pass next in wave of game related hacks
Sega on Friday in a warning to gamers said that its Sega Pass online service had been hacked. It took down the service after discovering that the database had been compromised. Those at PlayStation Lifestyle and elsewhere had been told that e-mail addresses and encrypted passwords had been compromised.
Xbox 360 GOW3 version up for pre-order
Microsoft and Amazon on Sunday began taking pre-orders for a special edition of the Xbox 360 to help wrap up another game trilogy. The Gears of War 3 Limited Edition not only has blood red artwork matching the Epic Games line but even has custom startup and disc eject sounds. It's also a functional upgrade over the regular console with a 320GB hard drive (up from 250GB) and a second wireless controller.
Epic rules out Android gaming for now
Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney in an interview on Tuesday ruled out game development on Android in favor of the iPhone and iPad. Games like Infinity Blade couldn't come to Android because Epic "can't guarantee" a baseline experience on every device. Even if a fast quad-core device like the Sony NGP were underneath, Sweeney told Gizmodo, the free rein hardware makers and carriers have to impose apps and custom interfaces meant you would get a different experience that could slow it down.
Tech expected to increase standards in iOS games
The iOS version of Epic's Unreal Development Kit will become available on Thursday, says the Wall Street Journal. The kit is used to produce games based on the Unreal engine, and includes components for the likes of audio, rendering and physics, as well as editing tools. Although a license costs just $99, Epic collects 25 percent in royalties after the first $5,000 in sales.
Will have relatively steep device requirements
Epic Games and Chair Entertainment have announced that Infinity Blade will launch in the App Store on December 9th. The title is the first iOS game to use Epic's Unreal engine, normally reserved for more powerful platforms such as Windows PCs and game consoles. The first public glimpse at iOS running Unreal came through the Citadel technology demo.
App features Unreal Engine 3
Epic Games has already released an app demonstrating the graphics capabilities of the upcoming Project Sword game that was announced alongside the fourth-generation iPod touch. The tech demo, Epic Citadel, utilizes Unreal Engine 3 to render a medieval town in great detail. Users can simply tramp through streets and over bridges to enjoy the scenery, which includes flying flags, birds in the sky, and individual shadows on leaves and trees.
Notion Ink Adam to cost less than iPad
Notion Ink's Adam tablet has been largely fleshed out in an unofficial outline of company plans. The 10-inch Android slate will be sold in four distinct versions, SlashGear heard, all of which use NVIDIA's dual-core Tegra 250. A traditional LCD design with Wi-Fi alone will cost $399, or about $100 less than the iPad; a 3G version of the same will cost $449, while versions with an outdoor-friendly Pixel Qi display will cost an extra $50 each.