In an uncommonly bold and gracious move, Epic Games are offering $5 million worth in grants to select projects using their recently released Unreal Engine 4.
The motivations behind the studio’s move is explained in a blog post by Tim Sweeney, who empathizes with small developers struggling to gather funds for their ambitious projects:
One thing we’ve heard many times: While development can be fueled by creativity and determination alone, finishing and releasing a commercial project often requires money.
We know this firsthand, as Epic’s early projects were built on shoestring budgets funded by such sources as Tim Sweeney’s lawn-mowing earnings, and Mark Rein’s credit card (before they took it away from him!). A small budget can make all the difference in shipping a project with the content, marketing materials, and promotional expenses necessary for it to gain traction.
As such, Epic Games will offer anywhere between $5000 to $50,000 to various game projects from the afore-mentioned pool of $5 million. In order to be eligible, a project must have reached a “working prototype” stage in development. It can then be nominated through the Unreal Dev Grants Information Page .or by visiting Epic’s booth at GDC ($1024 South). Entrants will be chosen based on merit.
Additionally, this grant is available not just to game developers, but other projects using the Unreal Engine 4 such as architectural visualizations, animated movies, or mods. Projects receiving funding through Kickstarter are also eligible.
Very crucially, Epic are giving this money with “absolutely no strings attached.” Developers awarded the money are free to spend it however they please and not be beholden to Epic in any way imaginable. “Epic’s goal is simply to help UE4 developers succeed because when you succeed, we succeed.”