In a completely unexpected surprise, Epic Games have announced via Twitch that they will be working on a new Unreal Tournament, and it will be completely free upon release. “Not free-to-play, completely free,” according to Epic, implying that the game will have all its assets upon release and will not rely on microtransactions.
The news comes on the back of Epic boss Tim Sweeney’s repeated assertions at GDC 2014 that his team had no plans for a new Unreal game. “We have a lot of nostalgia for the game, but we’re actually not developing anything in the Unreal game universe at the moment […] ” he said. Looks like Epic sure fooled us.
The new Unreal game will of course be powered by the brand new Unreal Engine 4, which Epic is offering to developers to use through a $19 per month subscription plan. The Unreal Engine 4 had been in development since 2003 and was released on April 24 this year.
In addition to being completely free to all players, the new Unreal game will be developed “in the open” by a small team of veteran Unreal Tournament developers, which will allow Unreal Tournament fans and Unreal Engine 4 developers to collaborate with Epic; a bold and certainly welcome decision on Epic’s part. “We’ll be using forums for discussion, and Twitch streams for regular updates” the developer added.
Of course, you’re probably wondering how Epic plans to sustain itself financially, developing a game it is going to give away to everyone. The answer lies in a mainstay of the PC gaming world, modding:
We’ll eventually create a marketplace where developers, modders, artists and gamers can give away, buy and sell mods and content. Earnings from the marketplace will be split between the mod/content developer, and Epic. That’s how we plan to pay for the game.
The new Unreal will be developed for the PC, Mac, and Linux, and will most likely support Oculus Rift. An alpha prototype will be available in a few months, so those wishing to contribute to the creation of this new Unreal Tournament should head over to the game’s new wiki page for developers, and those wishing to simply contribute feedback can check out the forums.
This will be the first Unreal Tournament in seven years, following 2007’s Unreal Tournament 3.