Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says the company is adjusting Unreal Engine pricing for non-gaming developers in fields like film / TV and automotive. “We haven’t officially announced this, but in the interest of transparency, we want to put it out there,” Sweeney said in a presentation from Unreal Fest 2023 posted on X (formerly Twitter) by @ImmatureGamerX (via Game Developer). The CEO didn’t mention specific pricing but said Epic’s licensing model would resemble those of tools like Maya and Photoshop.
Sweeney sounded (understandably) determined to differentiate Epic’s price hike from Unity’s. The latter stirred the ire of countless developers as it announced a per-install pricing model that many smaller developers claimed would have put them out of business. Unity ended up walking back many of the plan’s most contentious changes. However, whether the softened stance will prevent a full-on developer exodus remains to be seen. Several months before its pricing fiasco, Unity cut its workforce for the third time in less than a year.
Epic’s CEO briefly addressed his company’s recent layoffs, where it let go of 16 percent of its workforce. “This was a survival move that was necessary,” Sweeney said. He added that Epic began running into “financial problems” about 10 weeks ago, but he sounded satisfied that the move puts Epic back on solid ground. “One thing, we stabilized our finances so we won’t run out of money as we build the metaverse,” he said. Epic has been bullish on constructing a virtual universe, including a partnership with Meta, Microsoft, and others to develop metaverse standards.
Sweeney explained that Fortnite‘s revenue had subsidized other parts of the company and that it was time for change. He claimed aspects of Epic’s business had grown too reliant on the cash cow. “A funny thing about being funded so heavily by Fortnite over the past six years is we’ve had different parts of our business get disconnected from their revenue streams. We have big teams serving different industry verticals, building this and that set of features for custom clients without revenue to support it,” he said.
The co-founder sounded as invested as ever in the Epic Games Store. “We think the Epic Games Store is a cure to a disease that’s impacting a lot of the industry right now, where the mobile platforms have become overlords and are extracting vastly higher payment processing fees than any same payment process around there,” he stated. “And we’re fighting that.” The company has taken on Apple and Google’s stranglehold on mobile payments.
Sweeney’s speech wrapped by framing the moment as a crucial turning point laced with optimism. “In summary, this is a pivotal moment for us,” he explained. “Our commitment now is to operate differently. We are determined to avoid falling back into a precarious position. Through the highs and lows, we promise to support you,” Sweeney said.