Former Unreal Boss: Unity 5 Is "Awesome"

Former Unreal Boss: Unity 5 Is "Awesome"

Former Epic Games President Mike Capps believes Unity 5's royalty-free model is a better choice for indies than Unreal Engine 4.

In the same week we've seen the launches of a free Unreal Engine 4 and Unity 5 - two hugely popular gaming engines - both of which can be downloaded for no cost. But how are Epic Games and Unity Technology making money? Unreal Engine 4 takes a royalty payment after you earn $3000, while Unity 5 requires a license fee if your project earns $100,000. According to former Epic Games head Mike Capps, Professor X of the video game industry, it's a huge difference that will ultimately favor Unity among indie developers.

"Unreal's new free pricing model is a great step and I'm delighted to hear about that," Capps told The Escapist. "But when a small team becomes a big success, that 5% royalty can be significant. Unity is also free up front for small teams, but the maximum back end is $1,500 on a successful game. That's potentially a big, big difference for indie developers."

Unity 5's Professional Edition - which is required for projects over $100,000 in revenue or funding - costs either $75 a month or a fixed license fee of $1,500. Unity also won't take any royalties, which means a hugely successful game could ultimately put more money into developers pockets. It's a principle Capps believes in so much, he spoke about it on stage at Unity 5's own press conference.

"[Unity is] fucking awesome," Capps said in a glowing recommendation of Unity 5. "And I don't work here so I can say that."

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I'm liking this competition with engines being more available, it's good for everyone.

Real competition between companies makes for better products and more adjusted pricing/payment options for clients which can favor the end consumer (namely gamers) in many ways. This, among other reasons, is why the indie gaming market is an important piece of the industry's puzzle.

Aerotrain:
Real competition between companies makes for better products and more adjusted pricing/payment options for clients which can favor the end consumer (namely gamers) in many ways. This, among other reasons, is why the indie gaming market is an important piece of the industry's puzzle.

True.
If you want to know what happens, if you don't have real competition, just look at Microsoft. In particular the Internet Explorer and Windows.

It wasn't until Firefox and (later) Chrome really became forces in the market, that MS got their shit together and made a browser that's actually any good. I once read that the IE has singlehandedly held back the Internet by years and it's true. It's not that it was cool to make jokes about it being shit, this was totally grounded in reality. Ask any web-developer that worked back then. The IE was literally broken and they had choice but to support it *somehow*.

Since we're on the Escapist here, I'm just saying one word when it comes to Windows: 'DirectX'.
It's basically them saying: "Well, your graphics card can do all kind of fancy stuff, but unless you use the product that we're telling you to, you won't be able to use all of it."

You all better hope that neither Direct3D 12 nor Mantle, but Vulkan takes off in future.

Epic and the Unreal Engine always came off to me as an obvious attempt to gain a monopoly on game engines. One that never happened considering that nearly every studio saw right through it thus meaning they wasted efforts on nothing.

It wouldn't be so bad if the UE were any good. There's a reason shooters are synonymous with it: it's because they're the only genre the thing can do well without having to rewrite the entire engine to the point where you wondered why you even bothered.

I think that this guy needs some help with math or needs to learn how to compare an apple pricing structure to an orange pricing structure): if the team is working with Unreal a 5% royalty after 3K (per project) means that if the game is relatively unpopular then they might never end up paying the royalty, and a group going with Unity if the they have been marginally popular, and have grossed somewhat well then they will end up paying potentially more just to dip their feet into Unity. the break down is as follows for a 5 person team (this is even small when talking about games):

'''''''''''''''''''''''''Unreal 4: Unity 5
1*project grosses 50K -> $2350 ''' $0
1 project grosses 3K' -> $0 '''''' $0
1*project grosses 47K -> $2200 ''' $7500 ($1500 per seat)
total'''''''''''''''' -> $4550 ''' $7500
* assume that these products were created in the given engine, and the others were created in some other product
"'" is to lock spacing for table.

see what ends up happening is that Unreal looks at per product created with Unreal meaning that if you are a company that has some establishment just trying out the engine you only have to pay them royalty if the product makes over a certain amount of money, but Unity looks at the companies net profits in total (I have not spoken to any of there sales people at length as to if that net profit only pertains to games, or the entire company), and this means that if a company like 2K wanted to release a game in Unity they would automatically have to kick $1500 per person that will be working on the project, but if they wanted to release a game in Unreal then they would only need to pay royalty after certain profit point. yes at specific points a fixed value constant is lower then a linear progression curve, but where that linear progression curve will only be adjusted per product it is actually more fixed for a company then having to deal with a lot higher of a tiered variable of a fixed cost per. think about this your team of 10 is required to get the pro version of Unity requiring $1500 per seat, and then by the time your product ships 3 of your team ends up leaving, and the game only grosses $45000 you are now looking at a fixed cost of $15000 to make the game, but assuming the same amount of work to make the same game in Unreal with the same amount of profit you only end up paying $2100, and Epic still won't care how big your team is.

for very small teams of 1-4 yes Unity is more attractive, and will cost this team less (especially if every product they ever make will be in Unity, and there team stays the same size), but if they might be constantly changing tools, and wanting to try new things then in some cases Unreal would be the more economical choice cause there is always the chance that this small team puts out 100 games that only profit around $2500 each under Unreal they will never pay a penny, but Unity would demand a fixed cost from them for even releasing anything with their engine.

captcha: "stay safe" + do your math.

Aiddon:
Epic and the Unreal Engine always came off to me as an obvious attempt to gain a monopoly on game engines. One that never happened considering that nearly every studio saw right through it thus meaning they wasted efforts on nothing.

It wouldn't be so bad if the UE were any good. There's a reason shooters are synonymous with it: it's because they're the only genre the thing can do well without having to rewrite the entire engine to the point where you wondered why you even bothered.

nope until the recent release of Unreal 4 w/ source code access for free you if you wanted anything more then script level access you would not only have to get the enterprise version which Epic never would publicly state a price (not that they wouldn't remove from public view within a week). what you have stated is a popular misconception: unreal engine did not come designed as a shooter engine, and it actually was not optimized as a shooter engine. it came with an open source shooter game as an example program...
in programing, and especially game development being able to see a full blown example project that showed several feature that can be taken apart, and tweaked to see what exactly everything does is an extremely valuable thing. the project that effectively comes bundled with unreal engine shows any user upon opening it how their built in A.I. system works, how the lighting, inheritance structure they used, menu system work, and even how the physics system works, and any user can just go, and delete the project, and start again.

If you work for a company has annual revenues of more than 100,000 and your game flops that badly, there's a problem. Then there's the fact that the pro license is permanent and not game or person dependent. So it would be trivial to run coders on 6 hour shifts with any 'free' time divided between them as needed priority wise to mostly halve the resource cost.

Assuming that PoE is even half as awesome as it looks, it seems PoE 2 will use Unity 5. This is a good thing as it fixes quite a few issues with Unity 4.

Also, sales of a game are much more likely to run to at least a million for any halfway serious game with more than one or two programmers. So your little price point table makes zero sense. Hell, most kick starters for a good idea with evidence of proper prior planning will garner more an 100,000 grand.

Not to mention, thinking on the matter further, you can download the personal edition, have the devs Futz around with it for a month or two until they are comfortable with it's capabilities, the buy/subscribe the pro edition thus cutting down on cash expenditure further as each seat would have to be active for 20 months to equal the cost of buying it.

gardian06:

'''''''''''''''''''''''''Unreal 4: Unity 5
1*project grosses 50K -> $2350 ''' $0
1 project grosses 3K' -> $0 '''''' $0
1*project grosses 47K -> $2200 ''' $7500 ($1500 per seat)
total'''''''''''''''' -> $4550 ''' $7500
* assume that these products were created in the given engine, and the others were created in some other product
"'" is to lock spacing for table.

The thing that really falls out of this analysis is just how carefully you have to cherry pick your data to make Unreal cost less. If you're employing 5 users on exactly $100K annual revenue while making three games per year, you might have bigger problems than the less than $3000 difference in cost.

Pyrian:

gardian06:

'''''''''''''''''''''''''Unreal 4: Unity 5
1*project grosses 50K -> $2350 ''' $0
1 project grosses 3K' -> $0 '''''' $0
1*project grosses 47K -> $2200 ''' $7500 ($1500 per seat)
total'''''''''''''''' -> $4550 ''' $7500
* assume that these products were created in the given engine, and the others were created in some other product
"'" is to lock spacing for table.

The thing that really falls out of this analysis is just how carefully you have to cherry pick your data to make Unreal cost less. If you're employing 5 users on exactly $100K annual revenue while making three games per year, you might have bigger problems than the less than $3000 difference in cost.

the thing is that I actually state point blank right before this table that a 5 person team is still considered to be relatively small. we are talking about an industry that can use the words small team to talk about anything less then 20 people (typically this is just so that they can still use the term Indie, and say "we're smaller then AAA studios") but realistically the counter point to my example is not that my example is cherry picked to say X seats its that in order to compare these 2 very different systems at all you have to cherry pick an X number to even begin talking about them. in all reality there is no absolute practical way to say that one of these systems will be fundamentally less expensive then the other because in reality in order to make a real quantitative comparison between these apple, and orange structures we have to plot them at the very least in a 3D space because one is plotted on the seats-cost plane while the other is being plotted on the profits-cost plane, and then we might have to map on a 4D space considering lump sums verse over time. I hinted at this in my very first sentence of my post

gardian06:
I think that this guy needs some help with math or needs to learn how to compare an apple pricing structure to an orange pricing structure...

my over all point in my initial post was that yes looking at Unity as a lump sum automatically "feels" less then a royalty, but by putting a marketing spin of "... or a fixed license fee of $1,500." by ignoring the word per seat and when talking about that 100K number (though I have not been following all there material exactly as of the last year) has always been in the terms of the "companies" net profits meaning not just on Unity projects, but on all game projects (again as I stated in the original post I have never gotten a definitive answer myself as to if that was just games, or all profits of the company)

and on the context of my table even if we consider 5 (number of seats) to be an X variable we get a baseline equality of one marginally successful game that earns 100K costing $4850 in royalties equal to 3.23333... pro-licenses of Unity, so that means that assuming the game falls into obscurity after initial launch buys (which is completely possible for an indie title, and even very possible for a AAA title not the profit number but the obscurity) then even a 4 person team is actually performing at a loss under this model. And yes I know that a game "never" getting sales after initial launch is not probable, but at the same time it is not possible to prove how many post launch sales a game makes. most retailers don't release these numbers, and even from actual developers I have spoken to who get sales on Valve they are never told how many owners they actually have unless they collect the metric themselves through achievement counting (the actual value of a "turn the game on" achievement), or in-game account tables, and for steam they "supposedly" have a question on their submission for sale form of "is there any group that royalties for this product are due, to whom, and what percent", and they "supposedly" take the royalty out for you, so you never get to see what the percent cut was anyways.

ravenshrike:
If you work for a company has annual revenues of more than 100,000 and your game flops that badly, there's a problem. Then there's the fact that the pro license is permanent and not game or person dependent. So it would be trivial to run coders on 6 hour shifts with any 'free' time divided between them as needed priority wise to mostly halve the resource cost.

firstly that 100,000 is not annual revenue it is revenue period, and even games that appear like they should sell very well still flop at the launch: not enough/proper marketing, wrong price point, looks to similar to X, or even not very good information on what the product is.

I have worked on projects with very different structures, and I have learned from direct experience that any time you have coders working without direct communication there is a very good likelihood that things on the project can change without notice which can lead to high amounts of frustration, double-triple work, and even pure break downs of team dynamics because someone on shift-A modified code from a programmer on shift-B without consent, and they wanted to jump through their monitor to throttle (if you do not have experience coding then some programmers take on a level of investment in what they have written to the point of what many would treat a collectible, or a known antique. think they took your car without permission, and changed the paint-job). heck I have even had it happen where I was assigned a task before leaving for a 3-day conference (1 work day), and when I got back on Monday I find that not only had what I had been assigned been worked on by another team-member they did it in such a way that I had to spend 2 weeks fixing it cause dependencies) when I could have finished the original implementation in 3 hours (I even proved this on my own time the same night I finished to fix, but I could just use that approach cause the dependencies)

ravenshrike:
not sure what you are talking about specifically...snip...

Also, sales of a game are much more likely to run to at least a million for any halfway serious game with more than one or two programmers. So your little price point table makes zero sense. Hell, most kick starters for a good idea with evidence of proper prior planning will garner more an 100,000 grand.

citation needed on the "serious game" very few solid number have been released unless a team was grabbing their own metrics, and bragging, and on the kick-starter thing there are projects that have good planning, and are looking to create what could really be a good product never meat even low goals, so I am not dismissing wholeheartedly, but I am skeptical of this being an absolute.

ravenshrike:
Not to mention, thinking on the matter further, you can download the personal edition, have the devs Futz around with it for a month or two until they are comfortable with it's capabilities, the buy/subscribe the pro edition thus cutting down on cash expenditure further as each seat would have to be active for 20 months to equal the cost of buying it.

yes I will give you that there is the free version of Unity that is valid, but Unity still keeps quite a few of their more "demanded" features behind the pay wall, and others I have worked with as-well as myself have have even been disgruntled free-user that felt that I could not complete my task, or even prototype without some of those pro-only features. and on your last point Having a schedule that is too limited can cause a game/project to not live up to what it could have been. this is mainly because many people (even veteran project managers) don't actually factor in enough pad time (or the estimates they get are not good enough, or not factored correctly).

gardian06:

ravenshrike:
If you work for a company has annual revenues of more than 100,000 and your game flops that badly, there's a problem. Then there's the fact that the pro license is permanent and not game or person dependent. So it would be trivial to run coders on 6 hour shifts with any 'free' time divided between them as needed priority wise to mostly halve the resource cost.

firstly that 100,000 is not annual revenue it is revenue period, and even games that appear like they should sell very well still flop at the launch: not enough/proper marketing, wrong price point, looks to similar to X, or even not very good information on what the product is.

I have worked on projects with very different structures, and I have learned from direct experience that any time you have coders working without direct communication there is a very good likelihood that things on the project can change without notice which can lead to high amounts of frustration, double-triple work, and even pure break downs of team dynamics because someone on shift-A modified code from a programmer on shift-B without consent, and they wanted to jump through their monitor to throttle (if you do not have experience coding then some programmers take on a level of investment in what they have written to the point of what many would treat a collectible, or a known antique. think they took your car without permission, and changed the paint-job). heck I have even had it happen where I was assigned a task before leaving for a 3-day conference (1 work day), and when I got back on Monday I find that not only had what I had been assigned been worked on by another team-member they did it in such a way that I had to spend 2 weeks fixing it cause dependencies) when I could have finished the original implementation in 3 hours (I even proved this on my own time the same night I finished to fix, but I could just use that approach cause the dependencies)

ravenshrike:
not sure what you are talking about specifically...snip...

Also, sales of a game are much more likely to run to at least a million for any halfway serious game with more than one or two programmers. So your little price point table makes zero sense. Hell, most kick starters for a good idea with evidence of proper prior planning will garner more an 100,000 grand.

citation needed on the "serious game" very few solid number have been released unless a team was grabbing their own metrics, and bragging, and on the kick-starter thing there are projects that have good planning, and are looking to create what could really be a good product never meat even low goals, so I am not dismissing wholeheartedly, but I am skeptical of this being an absolute.

ravenshrike:
Not to mention, thinking on the matter further, you can download the personal edition, have the devs Futz around with it for a month or two until they are comfortable with it's capabilities, the buy/subscribe the pro edition thus cutting down on cash expenditure further as each seat would have to be active for 20 months to equal the cost of buying it.

yes I will give you that there is the free version of Unity that is valid, but Unity still keeps quite a few of their more "demanded" features behind the pay wall, and others I have worked with as-well as myself have have even been disgruntled free-user that felt that I could not complete my task, or even prototype without some of those pro-only features. and on your last point Having a schedule that is too limited can cause a game/project to not live up to what it could have been. this is mainly because many people (even veteran project managers) don't actually factor in enough pad time (or the estimates they get are not good enough, or not factored correctly).

It is 100,000 revenue the previous year or 100,000 in funding for the current project. Also, while it is true that the unreal engine comes with less risk, if your game even breaks even the unreal engine costs more. So if you plan to fail, choose the unreal engine.

Note, the above only applies to engine cost, not to relative abilities of the engines.

Eh, I personally just prefer working in UE4 more.

UE4 may or may not be more expensive than Unity but honestly, it looks more powerful and complete. But then again, I wouldn't know.

ravenshrike:
So if you plan to fail, choose the unreal engine.

Lol, yeah, basically. Except that you have to fail in a fairly narrow range; if you fail too badly, you can use Unity free. gardian06 can talk all he wants about complex plots, but he can't even cherry pick a set of figures in which Unreal costs less and the team meets its basic costs. In any successful realistic scenario - and frankly most failure scenarios - Unity is going to be cheaper.

But not usually a lot cheaper (unless you're very successful), and of course, that's just one metric. I think most people will look at the relative costs and make their decision on other factors, like team experience, productivity and feature sets.

Arnoxthe1:
UE4 may or may not be more expensive than Unity but honestly, it looks more powerful and complete. But then again, I wouldn't know.

I use Unity in my day job as a mobile game developer and as a hobbyist I use Unreal Engine 4 for making whatever I feel like. I also run a UE4 tutorial series on youtube.

I just prefer UE4 more... like a lot more. It's much more pleasurable to work in and I feel like I can get things done in half the time as Unity. It just generally works how I expect it to work. I feel unity has some very fundamental design problems, like co-routines only being runnable by game objects actually in the scene which is totally and completely absurd to me.

Or even workflow problems like prefabs not being editable in their own window. To change a game object you actually have to drag it into the scene and mess with it. It's insane and is very annoying to work with; in unreal you just double click it and a new, self contained window and scene opens up for you to edit it.

And really these are just my surface level issues with unity. That said, it's not like I don't have my serious gripes with UE4 as well. Their deferred lighting system can be a massive fucker at times when you're trying to achieve certain effects.

The long and short of it is - as someone who uses both quite frequently - I feel Unreal Engine 4 is a much better designed engine.

 

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